Shoaib and Sania met in Australia
It's an Indo-Pak love match that's creating ripples on both sides of the border, but no one seems to have a clue about just when and where did the love blossom between Indian tennis queen Sania Mirza and dashing Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Malik.
A day after shocking almost everyone, except family, by announcing that they will tie the knot in April, speculation continues about where exactly the romance began.
Sources say the two first met in Australia, in January, where Sania had just crashed out of the Australian Open, and Pakistan suffered yet another embarrassing defeat to Ricky Ponting's men.
Image: Shoaib Malik and Sania Mirza
Sania broke her engagement with Sohrab
Not a trip to remember professionally, but, personally, it was to be a life-changing one, at least for Sania, who broke her engagement with childhood friend Sohrab Mirza at the end of that month, citing incompatibility.
The break-up was stunning, because their lavish engagement just six months earlier was still fresh in everyone's mind.
Neither Sania nor her family gave exact reasons for the split, but given yesterday's announcement, speculation is rife that the 23-year-old Hyderabadi's meeting with Shoaib may have contributed to the break-up.
Image: Sohrab Mirza and Sania Mirza in happier times
Even Shoaib has been unlucky in love
Shoaib too had been luckless in love before meeting Sania, and that incidentally also had a Hyderabad connection.
The all-rounder was accused of marrying and dumping one Ayesha Siddiqui but Shoaib denied that, insisting he was merely engaged to the said girl.
Image: Shoaib Malik
Controversies a common factor between the two
Both seem to be controversy's favourite children, with Shoaib, a former captain of the Pakistan team, currently serving a one-year ban for indiscipline on the Australia tour, and Sania battling a wrist injury besides warding off queries about just why she ended her engagement with Sohrab.
Sania's career has veered off towards the uncertain after a breakthrough 2005.
She rose to a career-high 27 in the WTA rankings in 2007 but poor form and never-ending injury battles have seen her slide to 92 currently.
Image: Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik
Marriage casts shadows over Sania's career
Marriage casts a shadow over Sania's career but given the support Shoaib is promising, the Hyderabadi seems set to continue her on-court life as well.
"I fully understand what it takes to be an international sports person and I will support Sania in her career as long as she wishes to play.
"Representing India at the 2012 Olympics is very important for her and I will be the proudest husband if she can win a medal for her country," said Shoaib.
Image: Sania Mirza
Sania appeals for privacy
Sania, who has lived in media glare ever since rising to stardom as an 18-year-old after moderate success on the WTA circuit, has pleaded for privacy.
"My wedding is, inshallah, going to be the biggest day of my life. I have been in constant glare for too long and would appreciate the privacy at this very personal moment in my life," she said.
Image: Sania Mirza