India’s top-ranked woman player Ankita Raina moved to the final round of the Australian Open qualifiers with a gutsy three-set win over the higher-ranked Katarina Zavatska on Wednesday.
However, India’s challenge in men’s singles qualifying came to an end as Ramkumar Ramanathan and Prajnesh Gunneswaran lost in the second round.
The 180th ranked Raina overcame a second-set stumble to beat the world No 118 Ukrainian 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 in the women’s singles qualifiers being held in Dubai.
The final qualifying round will be a challenging one as she takes on Serbian teen Olga Danilovic, ranked 183. It will be the first meeting between the two players.
In the men’s singles being held in Doha, Ramkumar lost to 3-6, 2-6 to Chinese Taipei’s Tung-Lin Wu in 69 minutes while Prajnesh went down in straight-set loss to Frenchman Constant Lestienne 2-6, 3-6.
First round results here
‘Proud the way I fought’
The 28-year-old said she was proud of the fight in the match that lasted two hours and 20 minutes.
“I started well in the first set and the first two games of the second set. Then the third game was kind of crucial because she won that game and got confident and played more balls back but I’m glad I could shift the momentum back,” Ankita told PTI.
“I started being more aggressive and sticking to my game. Struggled a bit with the serve in the beginning but later was a bit better. Was a little windy in the latter half of the match but I’m proud the way I fought.”
On her final round, she said: “I am feeling confident with the game, I just need to play smart as every match and every day is new and different, so taking it match by match,” she said.
This is Raina’s sixth attempt to crack the singles main draw of a Grand Slam and she is now just one win away from creating history.
Only Nirupama Vaidyanathan and Sania Mirza have competed in the women’s singles main draw of a Grand Slam from India to date. Nirupama had reached the second round of the Australian Open in 1998 while Sania last competed in the singles category in 2012.
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