Melbourne: India’s young tennis player Ankita Raina has got a place in the Australian Open women’s doubles draw. In this way, she has become the 5th Indian women’s tennis player to make a place in the main draw of a Grand Slam. The first Grand Slam of the year will begin on 8 February.
Ankita Raina did not make it to the main draw of the women’s singles but she will have a chance to qualify as a ‘lucky loser’ before the first round matches are over. The 28-year-old Indian has, however, paired with Romania’s Mihela Buzarnecu and got a direct entry in the women’s doubles.
Nirupama Mankad (1971), Nirupama Vaidyanathan (1998), Sania Mirza and Indian-American Shikha Oberoi (2004) were the first Indian female tennis players to make it to the main draw at Gradeslam.
Ankita is the second Indian after 6-time Grand Slam champion Sania to compete in the women’s doubles of the Grand Slam tournament. Nirupama first made it to the singles main draw at the 1998 Australian Open.
Apart from this, Nirupama Mankad participated in the mixed doubles of Wimbledon in 1971 along with Anand Amritraj. Shikha participated in the singles of the 2004 US Open and made it to the second round.
Ankita said, ‘This is my first main draw of Grand Slam so whether it is singles or doubles I am happy with it. After many years of hard work, I have reached here. Not only hard work, but also with the cooperation and blessings of the people, I have been able to reach here. I can not forget it.
He said, ‘I couldn’t believe it. I did not see my name in the draw. After the practice I saw the draw and eagerly searched for my name but I could not see my name. After this my coach told me that I got a place in the draw.
Ankita Raina and left-handed Mihaela Buzarnecu will take on the wild card entry-pairing Australian duo Olivia Gadeski and Belinda Woolcock in the first round.
Ankita said, ‘A friend told me that Mihela is looking for a partner. I talked to her and she agreed. I have not played with him before but I have played with the left-handed player. This has made it a good combination. I am excited about it.
In this way, four Indians will play in the first Grand Slam of the year. Sumit Nagal will compete in men’s singles while Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan will present their challenge in doubles. Sharan and his Slovakian partner Igor Jeleni will take on Germany’s Yanik Hafmann and Kevin Kravitz in the first round.
Sumit Nagal will face Lithuania’s Records Berenkis in the first round, Rohan Bopanna has teamed up with Ben McLachlan of Japan and will face Ji Sung Nam and Min Kiu Soong in the first round.