Vardhan-Balaji, Jeevan qualify for Wimbledon; Ankita loses

Ankita lost 2-6, 7-5, 4-6 to the Russian world number 132 Vitalia Diatchenko after a brave two-hour-23-minute battle in the second round of the grass-court major.

Vishnu Vardhan (left) and N. Sriram Balaji booking their berth in the men’s doubles draw of Wimbledon following a 6-3, 6-4 win over top seeds Denys Molchanov and Igor Zelenay. (File Photo)   -  Special Arrangement

Ankita Raina’s hopes of a maiden Grand Slam main draw appearance ended in a heartbreaking defeat, but the Indian pair of Vishnu Vardhan and N. Sriram Balaji succeeded in their effort and qualified for the main draw, alongside Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, who partnered Austin Krajicek in the Wimbledon qualifiers. Ankita lost 2-6, 7-5, 4-6 to the Russian world number 132 Vitalia Diatchenko after a brave two-hour-23-minute battle in the second round of the grass-court major.

India has not seen a female singles player competing in the singles Grand Slams since Sania Mirza’s first round loss at the 2012 Australian Open.

It was a second meeting between the two players, with the Russian emerging victorious way back in 2014, also in an ITF event in Egypt.

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However, there were cheers for the Indian fans, with Vardhan and Balaji booking their berth in the men’s doubles draw following a 6-3, 6-4 win over top seeds Denys Molchanov and Igor Zelenay in the second round. It will be a maiden Grand Slam main draw appearance for Vardhan and Balaji.

Moments later, Jeevan and his American partner Krajicek prevailed over the local team of Edward Corrie and Llyod Glasspool 7-6(5), 6-3 in the final round.

It will be the second time that Jeevan will play at Wimbledon. He had played last year with Jared Donaldson but lost a tough five-setter against Jay Clarke and Marcus Willis.

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“We played a solid match from the beginning, we kept the rhythm going on our serves. There was a lot of energy from the crowd. We held serves and played with the lead, played a very good tie-breaker. The key was taking care of our serves because we both were feeling great on returns,” Jeevan said from London.

“We are in a good rhythm now and definitely excited to play. The tournament is just starting now. I don’t want to get too excited in my mind,” the Chennai boy put things in perspective.

Jeevan and Krajicek have had a great run since joining forces recently. They reached the final of Nottingham Challenger and lifted the Ilkley trophy before coming to Wimbledon.

Today’s result means that the doubles draw will feature at least six Indians. Rohan Bopanna, Divij Sharan and Purav Raja will play with their respective partners.