Ankita Raina and Kamila Rakhimova clinch Phillip Island doubles title

Raina becomes only the second Indian woman, after Sania Mirza, to win a WTA trophy

By Soham Mukherjee

Ankita Raina and Kamila Rakhimova swept aside a daunting challenge from Anna Blinkova and Anastasia Potapova in the finals of the Phillip Island trophy at the 1573 Arena in Melbourne on Friday morning.

They came back from a set down to beat the Russian pair 2-6, 6-4, 10-7 in the WTA 250 event.

Blinkova and Potapova got off to a fast start in the first set, converting five break points to take the advantage.

However, Raina and her partner grew in stature in the second set, brushing off the setback in the first. They fought well and converted a crucial breakpoint to level the match. Incidentally, it was the first set that the Russian pair had dropped in the entire tournament.

The Indian ace and Rakhimova took the momentum into the match tie-break, clinching the trophy in an hour and 23 minutes as their opponents double faulted on their serve.

Post the Covid-19 break, Raina has been in a good run of form. She won the ITF Doubles title at the 2020 Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge held in Dubai, partnering Ekaterine Gorgodoze. The win in UAE propelled her to a career-best ranking of 117 in doubles.

She carried her rich vein of form in the new year as well. She was one of the 12 lucky losers to go to Melbourne after crashing out in the final qualifying round of the Australian Open.

Though Raina missed the cut in singles, she made her Grand Slam main draw debut in doubles. Raina became only the fourth Indian woman after Nirupama Mankad, Nirupama Sanjeev and Sania Mirza to feature at a major.

Now with this victory at Phillip Island, she became the second Indian women's tennis player after Sania Mirza to win a WTA title.

She is also likely to break into the top 100 in the doubles ranking, which will make her the third Indian woman after Sania Mirza and USA-based Shikha Uberoi to achieve this feat.