Ankita Raina optimistic about getting to the next level

Ankita Raina lifted the doubles crown in Nonthaburi in the $25,000 ITF women’s event and said she is confident about lifting her game to the next level.

Ankita Raina (right) with mother Lalita Raina, following her title triumph in both singles and doubles in the ITF Women's event in Thailand.   -  Special Arrangement

Ankita Raina is happy about the strong start to the season. If you think winning the doubles crown in Nonthaburi in the $25,000 ITF women’s event was special last week, the 27-year-old Ankita put things in perspective by pointing out that she had finished the last season with a doubles crown in Solapur.

"I am glad to continue from last year when I ended on a winning note. But, I am not satisfied. I am hungry to reach the next level. I want to have a good performance in the Grand Slams. I will use this confidence to lift my game and get the next big result’’, said Ankita in Thailand.

Since she was scheduled to play the Fed Cup this week, Ankita could not enter the singles category but will play the doubles. She was quick to point out that she had made the semifinals of the $25,000 event in Australia before the Australian Open. Hence, she was not exactly missing much in singles, especially as she would be playing a WTA event next week in Hua Hin.

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The early exit at the Australian Open was a disappointment, but Ankita stated that she was helpless because of the suffocating conditions.

"I was disappointed with the qualifying match at the Australian Open because I didn’t feel usual that day. I think, somewhere the smoke also played a part. I didn’t feel physically great which hampered my performance."

Elaborating further she said: "In the morning when I got to the venue, I could see the sky wasn’t clear. I remember blue sky from last year in Melbourne. This was smoke probably. From the beginning of my match, I was feeling tired and uneasy in my chest. It was strange when it was just two or three games into the match. I took the medical time out in the second set. I think it was 1-3, and I threw up. I asked for doctor. It was 2-3 when the physiotherapist came out to the court. I told them that I felt a burning sensation in the chest, my stomach was paining and I just felt drained. That was not usual for one and a half set. No way! I was just unlucky it happened on such an important day."

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Overall, Ankita said that she was happy with her fitness and game, even though she was keen to step it up and reach higher standards.

"I have to keep getting better. I personally can see the improvement in a lot of aspects from the last one and a half years or so’’, she said.

Ankita was confident that she would be able to play a significant role to lift the team to the next level in Fed Cup. The return of Sania Mirza would also play a major role to lift the spirits and fortunes of the team.

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"It is my seventh year in Fed Cup. It is my favourite week, since we play together as a team. I am ready to take on higher ranked players. I firmly believe we have a good chance, especially with Sania returning so strong, but at the same time, we need some luck as well’’, she observed.

Ankita was quite thrilled to win a doubles crown in front of her adoring mother in Nonthaburi.

"With God’s grace, I have had my mother or team to travel with me. It makes a huge difference. Even just to have the moral support and have someone to help you with small things makes a lot of difference. I have travelled alone since I was 14 years old. That is a long time. I rarely get time with family. So, it was lovely to have mum with me here, and am more than happy to have my coach, my team for the Slams’’, Ankita said.

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