Ankita Raina one step closer to French Open main draw

Though she struggled with her serves, Ankita Raina slugged it out over three sets to make it to the second round of the French Open qualifying rounds.

By Rahul Venkat

India’s Ankita Raina kept her dreams of playing in the French Open alive with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Serbian Jovana Jovic in the first round of the women’s singles qualifiers on Tuesday.

Raina, the top-ranked Indian tennis player (176) in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) rankings, was broken in the opening game of the match by Jovic, who swiftly moved into a 3-1 lead.

However, Raina, who played a crucial role in taking the Indian tennis team to its first Fed Cup playoffs earlier this year, clawed back by winning her first break point in the sixth game.

Though she lost serve in the very next game, Raina refused to give up, breaking Jovic’s serve twice in three games to wrap up the first set 6-4.

Both players served better in the second set, but Ankita Raina was broken in the third and seventh games as she ended up conceding the set.

The nerves were evident in the decider as Raina and Jovic lost serve three times each. However, Raina crucially managed to take a 5-4 lead on serve in the ninth game and then broke Jovic for a fourth time in the next game to win the tie. 

The match lasted two hours and 45 minutes.

Raina will next face Japan’s Kurumi Nara, ranked 148, in the second round of the women’s singles qualifiers for the French Open.

Ankita Raina 

Mukund, Balaji knocked out in ATP Challenger events

Meanwhile, the two other Indian tennis players plying their trade in Europe on Tuesday experienced first-round losses.

Sasikumar Mukund fell to Argentinian Juan Manuel Cerundolo 6-4, 7-6 in the men’s singles of the Sibiu Open in Romania.

Compatriot N Sriram Balaji, meanwhile, fell to a first-round loss in the men’s doubles of the Forli Challenger in Italy along with Swiss partner Luca Margaroli.

Balaji, who had made it to the Czech Open men’s doubles final with Divij Sharan, and Margaroli lost 6-3, 6-2 to the Bosnian-Serbian pair of Tomislav Brkic and Nikola Cacic.