Ankita Raina makes the second round in Mumbai WTA Open

With the pleasant sea breeze on a bright afternoon offering the best setting, Ankita was sharp with her strokes and movements, in recording a 7-6(2), 6-3 victory over Veronika Kudermetova of Russia.

Ankita Raina

Ankita Raina will play Penagtarn Plipuech of Thailand in the second round of the Mumbai WTA Open. (file image)   -  Twitter @ankita_champ


Ankita Raina warmed many hearts as she stroked her way into the second round of the L&T $125,000 WTA Mumbai Open at the Cricket Club of India courts on Wednesday.

With the pleasant sea breeze on a bright afternoon offering the best setting, Ankita was sharp with her strokes and movements, in recording a 7-6(2), 6-3 victory over Veronika Kudermetova of Russia.

Even though she complicated matters by letting the Russian back into the match, after jumping to a 4-0 lead in the first set, the 24-year-old Ankita retained her focus to close out the match in straight sets, playing the tie-break solid. The Russian did lend a helping hand by spraying her returns.

Kudermetova had the game but did not have the temperament to stretch the Indian into the third set. Int he second set also, Ankita dropped serve after leading 4-1, but tightened her grip.

Though she is ranked 293, second behind Karman Kaur Thandi among the Indians in singles, Ankita has been playing very good tennis on the circuit, making the finals of a $60,000 event in China, a semifinal
and a quarterfinal in Turkey in similar tournaments, apart from winning a bunch of doubles titles with different partners.

However, the fact that she could not win the singles medal in the Asian Indoor Games or the doubles gold with Prarthana Thombare, did not project her case in good light. Together with the fact that she
was not included in the list for support for the Olympic scheme possibly eroded her confidence, as she has been No.1 in the country for about five years and playing better in tough events in Europe and
China.

More than her fluent shots and sharp serves, Ankita impressed with the way she moved into her shots and also got to every drop and hit them back for winners. Even though she believes in her superior game, Ankita had the doubts nagging at the back of her mind, as the other three Indian players Zeel Desai, Karman Kaur Thandi and Rutuja Bhosale had failed to put up a fight, let alone win a set. In such
circumstances, it was a relief for her to pull through, with a vibrant game.

In the second round, Ankita will play Penagtarn Plipuech of Thailand, who knocked out the sixth seed Lizette Cabrera of Australia. Ankita has a 2-2 win-loss record against the Thai from 2010 to 2015.

Meanwhile, Sabina Sharipova sustained her good work to make the quarterfinals, as she led 3-0 before her opponent Fanny Stollar of Hungary retired. Thrid seed Yanina Wickmayer got past Valentyna
Ivakhnenko of Russia for the loss of five games and Dalila Jakupovic was equally at ease against seventh seed Carol Zhao of Canada.

Top seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus gave a glimpse of her high quality game, even though she got a stiff fight from Priscilla Hon of Australia in the first set. Big serves and explosive groundstrokes won
repeated rounds of applause for Sabalenka from the appreciative fans.

The results:

Singles (pre-quarterfinals): Sabina Sharipova (Uzb) bt Fanny Stollar (Hun) 3-0 (retired); Yanina Wickmayer (Bel) bt Valentyna Ivakhnenko (Rus) 6-1, 6-4; Dalila Jakupovic (Sl) bt Carol Zhao (Can) 6-3, 6-4.

First round: Aryna Sabalenka (Blr) bt Priscilla Hon (Aus) 7-5, 6-1; Junri Namigata (Jpn) bt Olga Ianchuk (Ukr) 6-1, 5-4 (retired); Naomi Broady (GBR) bt Bibiane Schoofs (Ned) 6-3, 0-6, 6-2; Ankita Raina bt Veornika Kudermetova (Rus) 7-6(2), 6-3; Peangtarn Plipuech (Tha) bt Lizette Cabrera (Aus) 7-6(4), 6-2.