India's number one Ankita Raina turns attention to doubles campaign in Prague

World No. 166 Raina will partner Samantha Murray next in the women’s doubles event.

By Subhayan Dutta

India’s No.1 Ankita Raina's return to the tennis court ended with a 2-6, 6(8)-7(10) loss to Russia’s Marina Melnikova in the round of 128 of the Prague Challengers on Monday.

The WTA Challengers event is Ankita Raina’s first competitive tournament since she last turned out for the Indian team at the Fed Cup in March.

The rust was evident from the very first game that saw Ankita Raina getting broken without fetching a single point. However, the 27-year-old came back stronger to make it 1-1.

But Ankita Raina could not sustain her fight for long and was later broken in the third and the fifth games to lose the first set 6-2.

The world No. 166, however, did show some resilience in the seventh game of the first set where she went to save three breakpoints.

Ankita Raina looked sharper in the second set as she broke Marina Melnikova in the second game before the Russian broke back on the third. The trading of breaks continued and the players forced the tie-breaker.

Ankita Raina.

The error-prone contest continued in the tiebreaker as well, with Ankita Raina breaking Marina Melnikova four times and the Russian breaking back on five occasions.

Ankita Raina was broken consecutively on the 16th and the 17th serve with Melnikova eventually winning the gruelling tie-breaker 10-8 and the one-hour-45-minute match 6-2, 7(10)-6(8).

Ankita will now compete in the women's doubles alongside Samantha Murray. The Indian-British duo goes up against the Dutch doubles pair of Bibiane Schoofs and Rosalie van der Hoek.

Ankita Raina's compatriot, and world No. 346, Riya Bhatia was also competing in the clay-court tournament and had endured a similar outcome on Sunday in the singles event.

Playing against Czech Republic's Lucie Havlickova, the 22-year-old Riya was upstaged in straight sets 6-0, 6-0, with the match ending under an hour.