Tokyo Olympics: Indian tennis - Sania Mirza, Ankita Raina profiles, rankings, opponents, form guide

Here are the profile, ranking, form guide and opponents of Indian tennis players Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina who will take part in the women's doubles at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Sania Mirza

Sania Mirza is India’s most-decorated women’s tennis player.   -  Getty Images

Sania Mirza (women’s doubles)

Ranking: 9 (Protected, as of June 14, 2021)

Form guide: 2020: Hobart International doubles winner

Main rivals: Azarenka / Sabalenka (Blr), Mertens / Uytvanck (Bel), Krejcikova / Siniakova (Cze), Garcia / Mladenovic (Fra), Babos / Luca Jani (Hun), Vesnina / Zvonareva (Rus), Kudermetova / Pavlyuchenkova (Rus), Mattek-Sands / Jessica Pegula (USA)

Sania Mirza is India’s most-decorated women’s tennis player. She has 42 WTA doubles titles, is a six-time Grand Slam champion and a former World No.1 in doubles. Representing India, she has a stellar record in the Asian Games, with eight medals across four editions, starting from 2002. At the Olympics, she came the closest to a podium finish in 2016 but lost a close bronze-medal playoff alongside Rohan Bopanna in mixed doubles.

But Tokyo 2020 will be a different test. This will be the 34-year-old’s biggest assignment since returning from a maternity break at the start of 2020. Back then, she immediately struck gold, winning her 42nd title in Hobart in January. She then anchored India’s breakthrough effort in the Billie Jean King Cup, leading the nation into its first-ever playoff.

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The COVID-19 pandemic, however, threw all her preparations out of gear. The Qatar Open in March this year was her first tournament in almost a year. She did play two tournaments on grass recently, at Eastbourne and Wimbledon, but results have been less than satisfactory, with just one win in doubles and two in mixed doubles.

However, big match experience is something she has in abundance. Tokyo will be her fourth Olympics, the most for any Indian woman. Though a medal looks a longshot, if the stage can inspire her to shake off the rust and come up with big performances, be a pillar of support to her relatively young doubles partner Ankita Raina, it will be a story befitting her glorious career.

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Ankita Raina (women’s doubles)

Ankita Raina

The last two years have been a period of significant improvement for Ankita Raina.   -  Latvian Tennis Union/Raimonds Volonts

 

Ranking: 95 (As of June 14, 2021)

Form guide: 2021: Philip Island Trophy, Melbourne, doubles winner; 2018: Bronze medal, Singles, Asian Games

Main rivals: Azarenka / Sabalenka (Blr), Mertens / Uytvanck (Bel), Krejcikova / Siniakova (Cze), Garcia / Mladenovic (Fra), Babos / Luca Jani (Hun), Vesnina / Zvonareva (Rus), Kudermetova / Pavlyuchenkova (Rus), Mattek-Sands / Jessica Pegula (USA)

The last two years have been a period of significant improvement for Ankita Raina. Only the fifth Indian woman ever to break into the WTA top-200 in singles (April 2018; highest-ranking 160, March 2020), she entered the top-100 in doubles earlier this year and won a WTA Tour-level trophy at the Philip Island Trophy in Melbourne, a first for an Indian woman after Sania Mirza. 

In the process, she made a Grand Slam main draw debut, in doubles, at the Australian Open and went on to play main draws at the French Open and Wimbledon.

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In the Group I Asia-Oceania Billie Jean King Cup round-robin in March 2020, she won all three of her doubles matches (with Sania Mirza) as India entered the playoffs for the first time. Once there, she stretched the Latvian 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko to three sets, losing 5-7 in the decider.

All of which have given her enough big-match experience ahead of Tokyo, where she will be making her Olympics debut, partnering Sania. Ankita did win a singles bronze at the 2018 Asian Games – another first after Sania – but the Olympic stage will be several notches higher. Self-belief, though, is something Ankita has never been short of, and one can expect nothing shy of a wholesome effort. 

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