Hyderabad: Ankita Raina has been making steady progress in international tennis and this year has been one of the successful seasons for this 28-year-old Pune player. She won her first WTA title in Australia, qualified to the main draw in the Australian Open before playing in the mixed and women’s doubles main round in Wimbledon.
She is easily the best women’s player after Sania Mirza in the country. Ankita and Kamilla Rakhimova (Russia) had won the Phillip Island Trophy WTA 250 tennis tournament in Melbourne this year. She is presently ranked 95 in the world.
However, her biggest dream has been to play in the Olympics and that has come to a reality as will play with Sania Mirza in the women’s doubles in the forthcoming Tokyo Games. As Sania said for first time after three Olympics she will be playing with a player who has below 100 ranking in the world. “That is probably the biggest difference this time around in Olympics, ” said Sania.
For Ankita it is a dream come true. “It is hard to describe in words. I’m really excited. It is years of hard work. It was one of the dreams and it has come to reality. I’m still trying to sync it in about this Olympic participation. It is a great opportunity to partner with Sania in the Olympics. She has been World No.1, and won so many Slams. So having her as a partner can boost my confidence a lot. We all admire and idolize her as coming back after pregnancy and playing top tennis is a great motivational factor to all sports persons,’’ said Ankita, who is in Hyderabad for a practice session with Sania before the Tokyo Olympics.
Ankita said she had the opportunity to partner with Sania in the past in Fed Cup matches. “She is fearless, regardless of who is on the other side of the net. That kind of attitude makes her a strong player. We played a couple of good matches but the best was in Dubai where India qualified for Fed Cup World Group play off.’’
Ankita thinks Sania’s forehand is awesome. “Whoever is on the other side of the net knows the power of the shot. It is deceptive and powerful.’’
The Pune born player said she was confident of playing in this Olympics. “I was expecting as Sania had the protected rank of nine and I had improved my ranking this year. It worked for me. I had a good result in Australian Open and the WTA win got me into the top 100. This Olympics is important. It is all about handle the pressure.’’
Ankita felt that she is now a much better player. “By playing matches at that level, I have the confidence to take on big players. After a certain level of ranking, it is all about mental and emotional. Of course we have to keep on improving in your game. I will be going to the US Open after the Olympics. I want to better my singles and doubles ranking.’’
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