Ankita Raina stuns former French Open finalist Sara Errani

The Indian tennis star fought back from a set down to beat Errani in the first round of qualifiers at WTA 250 event in Guadalajara, Mexico

By Samrat Chakraborty

India’s No 1 player Ankita Raina scored one of the biggest scalps of her career as he came back from a set down to beat former French Open finalist Sara Errani in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Raina defeated the 33-year-old Italian 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 in just over two hours in the first round of qualifiers of the Zapopan Open on Saturday.

It is another notable win for the Indian in what has been a breakthrough year so far.

Raina had made her Grand Slam debut last month when she competed in the women’s doubles event at the Australian Open. Then, in the company of Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova, Raina won the doubles title at the Phillip Island Trophy in Melbourne.

She thus became the first Indian after Sania Mirza to win a WTA doubles title and only the third Indian woman to ever do so.

Having made the long trip from Australia to South America, the 28-year-old was given little time to recover as she took on former World No 5 Errani in the qualifiers.

The Italian, known for her grinding style, is on a comeback trail and had beaten Venus Williams 6-1, 6-0 to advance to the third round of the Australian Open last month. And it looked like she would run away with the match when she pocketed the first set 6-2.

But Raina, who is keen to replicate her doubles form in the singles arena, is growing in confidence with each tournament. Despite losing her serve eight times through the match, the Indian kept rallying against her more experienced rival. Raina created 19 break point chances on the Italian’s serve over the course of three sets, converting nine of them to edge past Errani.

She will take on Leonie Kung of Switzerland for a place in the main draw.

At the ATP 250 event in Doha, Ramkumar Ramanathan progressed to the second round of qualifiers.

Ramkumar defeated Danish veteran Frederik Nielsen 6-4, 6-1 on Saturday. He will face second seed Norbert Gombos of Slovakia in the final qualifying round on Sunday.