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French Open 2018: Ankita Raina's Grand Slam debut derailed in the opening qualifying round

French Open 2018: Ankita Rainas Grand Slam debut derailed in the opening qualifying round

Anjali Banerjee

Published: 23 May 2018 12:03 PM GMT
India's poster girl of tennis, Ankita Raina's Grand Slam debut at Roland Garros was derailed as she lost in the opening round against Russia's Evgeniya Rodina 3-6 6-7(2) in the women's singles qualifying on Tuesday. The 25-year-old Raina who is basking in a career-high of World No. 181 put up a gritty performance against the 116th -ranked Russian after dropping the first set. She lead 5-2 in the second and had numerous chances to turn the match. But the more experienced Evgeniya fought tooth and nail to snatch the next four games and force a tie-breaker. In an hour and 41 minutes, the Russian denied Raina the match. After squandering three break points, the Russian broke the Indian's serve in the fifth and ninth game to snatch the opening set. After dropping the opener, Raina quickly took to the steering in the second. She broke Rodina in the first game and again in the fifth for a 4-1 lead with only four unforced errors and thirteen winners. But the Russian brought her experience into play to break Raina thrice consecutively to level things in the second set and then take the tie-breaker. Nonetheless, Raina looked very much confident in the second as she displayed supreme patience and perseverance. Letting her level drop a little bit towards the end was what took the match away from her. But not to forget, Rodina has made it to the Main draw of the French Open four times although she has never been able to make it to the next round. Experience was on the Russian's side and that showed in the match yesterday. Statistics show that the Indian double faulted only twice as compared to thrice from the Russian. Also Raina converted three out of the eight chances she had to break registering a 38% of break points won percentage while Rodina could only use 5 out of the 17 chances with a 29% of the same. What proved fatal was the 52% of the second serve points of Rodina as against 33% of Raina.
Nonetheless, lots of positives for the Indian to takeaway from the match. Stretching the World no.116 to a second set tie breaker itself showed Raina's improved game on clay. The last meeting of these two was in Chiasso in 2016 where the Russian had got the better of the Indian with a 6-2 6-0. Meanwhile India has not had a female tennis player in a Grand Slam main draw since Sania Mirza played in the Australian Open in 2012 and Ankita was hoping to change that. Last six months Ankita has shown a steady graph to break into the top 200. Her best performance was at the Fed cup where she was unbeaten and also upset top ranked players Lin Zhu of China and Yulia Putintseva of Kazhakstan. It remains to see how Ankita will use this experience and take the coming season head on to build on further momentum
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