Ankita Raina’s fine run at the L&T Mumbai Open came to an end on Friday as she bowed out at the quarter-final stage despite a battling display. In a tightly-contested match, unseeded Amandine Hesse of France completed a 6-3, 7-6(4) victory in an hour and 48 minutes. The Indian wildcard stretched the second set to a tie-breaker but couldn’t capitalise on the momentum as the much-higher ranked opponent edged ahead.
The biggest factor that worked in Hesse’s favour was the unusual amount of unforced errors from Raina. Looking to go for her naturally attacking shots, she missed the lines or made mistakes on the drop shots often. At one point, a frustrated Raina yelled out “Har ball out” [every ball is going out] as she struggled with her rhythm.
Raina started the match positively, managing a gritty hold despite facing double break points in her opening game and then went on to break Hesse on love to take a 2-0 lead. However, Hesse pulled right back and started attacking Raina’s serve to wrest back the momentum. Several unforced errors from the Indian didn’t help either as Hesse nosed ahead 4-2.
But the next couple of games saw Raina bounce back, briefly. A break point down, she clawed back and sealed the seventh game with a superb backhand down the line shot. In the crucial next game, she pulled out her entire range of shots, to come back from 0-40 down on Hesse’s serve to deuce.
An audacious winner helped her take the game but Raina couldn’t press through and almost gave away the set. More unforced errors while serving to stay in the set saw Hesse claim it 6-3 in 42 minutes.
Raina took a brief break before the second set, and while she managed to break her opponent four times after that, she couldn’t hold her own serve for four straight games. Staring at a deficit of 4-5, it was a crucial service game for the Indian and she managed to hold for the first time in the second set, getting a drop shot right. But she couldn’t break back in the next game and after another service hold, the set was level at 6-6.
In the tense tie-break, Raina hit a few strong winners, including a sweet down-the-line shot. But once again it was her unforced errors that took the match away from her, with the match point fittingly being a shot gone long.
In the end, it was Hesse’s measured game that overcame Raina’s aggressive shots. The world No 265 didn’t give away many chances and on her part, the Indian took too many. When she did land her risky strokes – the drop or the slice – right, they were crisp winners. But these perfectly placed shots were far too sparse to make much of an impact.
However, despite the loss there were many positives to take away for Raina after her first two wins. She will become the top-ranked Indian women’s singles player again next week after gaining point by reaching her first WTA quarters.
Dalila Jakupovic (SLO) bt Q-Alize Lim (FRA) 6-3, 6-1;
Sabina Sharipova (UZB) bt 3-Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2;
Aryna Sabalenka (BEL) bt 5-Naomi Broady (GBR) 6-4, 6-2;