India No 1 Ankita Raina on Monday notched up a hard-fought win over higher-ranked Arina Rodionova in the first round of the women’s singles qualifiers at the French Open.
The 28-year-old, ranked 182 in the world, showed nerves of steel as she bounced back from a set down to beat Russian-born Australian Rodionova, ranked 168th with a scoreline of 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in a thrilling rain-affected three-setter, reported PTI. The match lasted two hours and nine minutes.
Rodionova clinched a crucial break in the eigth game of the first set to go one up. The Indian stormed back to clinch the second set with breaks of serve in the second, fourth and sixth games. The two traded breaks at the start of the third set, but Raina went ahead with another break 4-3 before closing the game out in a thrilling finish.
Raina completed seven out of the nine break point opportunities came her way while also saving an impressive eight out of 13 break points on her own serve.
Raina will face Belgium’s Greet Minnen (ranked 125 in the world) in the next round.
Raina had reached the third round of the qualifiers in the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year. She had taken part in the Major in Australia in the doubles main draw.
Raina then won her first-ever WTA main draw match in singles and won then her first career WTA trophy, again in doubles. In April, she spearheaded India’s first-ever World Group Playoffs tie in the Billie Jean King Cup, having been instrumental in the landmark qualifying at the erstwhile Fed Cup in 2020. She impressed with her fight against the significantly higher-ranked players from Latvia.
Among other Indians in fray at Roland Garros, Sumit Nagal will take on Roberto Macorca in first round of the men’s qualifiers, Prajnesh Gunneswaran will meet Germany’s Oscar Otte and Ramkumar Ramanathan will cross swords against Michael Mmoh of USA.
(With PTI inputs)
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