Divij Sharan, Ankita Raina knocked out of Australian Open doubles

Divij Sharan was eliminated from men’s doubles after a straight-sets loss while it was not a memorable Grand Slam debut for Ankita Raina.

By Rahul Venkat

India’s Divij Sharan and his Slovakian partner Igor Zelenay exited the Australian Open men’s doubles after a straight-sets loss early on Thursday.

Sharan-Zelenay lost 6-1, 6-4 to the German pair of Kevin Krawietz and Yannick  Hanfmann in the Round of 64.

Divij Sharan and Igor Zelenay served first in the opening set and looked comfortable as they held serve to take the game. However, that would be the only positive for the Indo-Slovakian pair.

Krawietz and Hanfmann held serve to tie the set at 1-1 in the second game and then went on the attack, breaking Sharan-Zelenay to take a 2-1 lead soon.

The Germans barely broke a sweat during their serve in the fourth game and then broke Divij Sharan and Igor Zelenay yet again to be in a dominant position at 4-1.

The Indo-Slovakian pair’s best chance of hitting back came in the sixth game of the match as they earned as many as three break points. However, Krawietz-Hanfmann dug deep to save each one and hold serve.

Sharan-Zelenay were deflated after that effort as they were unable to win a single point during serve and conceded the first set 6-1.

Divij Sharan and Igor Zelenay though did put up a much-improved show in the second set.

Both pairs held their serves admirably, not allowing the other even a break point for the first eight games.

Sharan-Zelenay then forced the issue in the ninth game during the Germans’ serve to take the game deep. They had three break opportunities, but the final winner was never forthcoming as Krawietz-Hanfmann managed to hold on.

However, in a repeat of the first set, Divij Sharan and Igor Zelenay seemed energy-sapped after a fighting effort as Krawietz-Hanfmann won four quick points to wrap up the match.

Ankita Raina falls in first round

Meanwhile, it was not a memorable Grand Slam debut for India’s Ankita Raina after she bowed out of the Australian Open women’s doubles with partner Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania.

Raina-Buzarnescu fell 6-3, 6-0 to the local pair of Belinda Woolcock and Olivia Gadecki in the first round.

Ankita Raina, who became only the fifth Indian woman to make the main draw of a Grand Slam, had paired up with Mihaela Buzarnescu for the first time and it showed in the opening stages.

Raina-Buzarnescu trailed 0-3 quickly before finally pulling back a game on serve in the fourth. It was not the turnaround they expected it to be as Woolcock and Gadecki broke them for a second time soon to lead 5-1 and were serving for the set.

However, the Indo-Romanian pair fought back well in the seventh game, creating pressure with their forehands down-the-line and mid-court shots. Raina-Buzarnescu had four break points and converted at the fifth time of asking to pull it back at 2-5.

They then held serve with some difficulty to make it 3-5 but were unable to mount a comeback as Woolcock and Gadecki won the set.

With both Ankita Raina and Mihaela Buzarnescu being strong back-court players, net play was something they struggled with throughout the first set and it hurt them more in the second.

Woolcock and Gadecki routinely aimed body shots at whoever was standing at the net and were generally sharper with their volleys as they romped to an early 4-0 lead.

Raina-Buzarnescu were trailing again during their serve in the fifth but saved as many as four break points. However, it was not enough as Woolcock-Gadecki converted the fifth to lead 5-0.

Teenager Olivia Gadecki then was solid with her serve as her deep shots did not allow Raina-Buzarnescu a chance and helped the Australians to an easy victory.