Ankita Raina clinches first singles title of 2019

The 50 points earned from the title triumph will most likely catapult Ankita to a career-high singles rank of 168.

Ankita Raina poses with the title.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Ankita Raina made light of the challenge of beating the top seed and world No. 122, Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands, as she won 6-3, 6-2 in the final of the $25,000 ITF women’s tennis tournament in Singapore on Sunday.

It was the first title of the season and eighth singles title of her career for the 26-year-old Ankita, ranked 203 in the world.

The 28-year-old Dutch player was ranked 61 in 2012, and has been a regular in the Grand Slams for a few years, with the best of reaching the third round of Wimbledon.

In a tournament, with a cut-off of 250 and which had all players travelling from the Australian Open qualifying event, Ankita did well to win in such robust fashion, as she dropped only one set along the way.

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Invariably, Ankita had to play better ranked players right from the start. She beat the second and third seeds in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively.

"I am very happy to win this tournament. Even though it is a $25,000 event, it was a lot of tough competition’’, said Ankita.

Having played well at the Australian Open, despite losing the second round of the qualifying event, Ankita said that she was getting better and playing with confidence.

"I feel it definitely helped playing the Grand Slam as the first tournament of the year. It gave me a lot of positivity and self-belief. I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t qualify as that was what I had expected to achieve. However, I was grateful that I had reached where I once used to imagine that I would be playing’’, said Ankita.

Coach Hemant Bendre had accompanied Ankita to the Australian Open, and to the event in Singapore.

"I saw a lot of things that I was working on with my coach a few days earlier to this tournament. There were a few things that I needed to work on mentally which I am happy I could work with my coach as he was around before the tournament. He eventually left after the first round, due to other commitments back home’’, said Ankita, quite pleased with the result of the efforts of working on aspects to improve her game and approach.

In the final, Ankita faced two break points on her serve and saved both. She converted three of seven breakpoints that she forced, to race to the trophy.

"I have been working on my serve for a long while now. I think it is starting to help. I also feel that there is more power in my strokes’’, said Ankita, who had won the singles bronze medal in the Asian Games in Indonesia.

Ankita will play another tournament in Singapore to get ready for the Fed Cup in Kazakhstan.

"The confidence of winning matches and title would help me go to the next level for the Fed Cup. I will not feel new playing against those players. I strongly believe that we have a good chance for the team this year," said Ankita, who will be spearheading the Indian team
along with Karman Kaur Thandi in Fed Cup.

The results

$25,000 ITF women, Singapore

Singles (final): Ankita Raina bt Arantxa Rus (Ned) 6-3, 6-2.