Chennai Open: Ankita Raina given wild card entry for city's first-ever WTA event
Indian tennis player Ankita Raina will be participating in the upcoming Chennai Open as a wild card entrant.
Ankita Raina has been given a wild card entry into the upcoming Chennai Open 2022 which is set to commence from September 12. Along with the Indian, Canada's Eugenie Bouchard will also be taking part as a wild card entrant.
Bouchard has the distinction of being the first Canadian tennis player to make it to the Wimbledon finals where she finished runner-up to Petra Kvitova in the 2014 edition.
"The wildcards for the 32-player singles main draw have been given to Eugenie Bouchard and Ankita Raina. The two other (wildcards) to be given to anyone in the top-20 willing to come and play here," TNTA president and former Indian tennis player Vijay Amritraj said at a press conference here. Amritraj said that the wildcards were awarded to both Raina and Bouchard in the women's singles draw as per the WTA rules.
Meanwhile, the India duo of Sharmada Balu and Riya Bhatia were awarded a wildcard in the doubles draw.
Raina recently lost out to Joanna Garland in the final of ITF Great Britain 16A tournament. This was her first singles final since 2020. In the coming days, she is set to play matches at the ITF Great Britain 11A tournament as well.
Interestingly, this is the first-ever WTA event that will be held in Chennai, and this is the first WTA250 tournament which will be hosted by India since 2008, when it was a certain Serena Williams who had won the Indian Open in the women's singles.
Amritraj further said that there has no confirmation yet on whether star tennis player Sania Mirza would feature in the tournament, given the fact that the 35-year-old also pulled out the US Open with a tendon injury. "I had a long chat with Sania during Wimbledon where she had said that she was going to participate at the US Open and also had a good chance of making it to the WTA Finals which would have made it hard for her to come back to India for the Chennai Open and then go back," Amritraj said.
"But now that she is injured, it does not look like she is going to play at the US Open and whether she will be fit enough to play with us, we will have to wait and see. "Even if she does not play, TNTA would like to invite and felicitate her for the incredible career that she has had," he added.
Sania, who earlier announced that she would retire at the end of the 2022 season, recently reached the women's doubles semifinals in Toronto and also played at the Cincinnati Masters last week.
Former world number 4 Caroline Garcia of France is likely to be the top-seed in the singles draw, as she stormed back into the top 20 after clinching the Cincinnati Masters, defeating Petra Kvitova in the final. World number 29 Alison-Riske Amritraj and Belgium's Elise Mertens of Belgium (world rank 32) would be among the other leading names in the fray. "A few years ago, when I took over as TNTA President, the goal was to get global tennis back in the city. I am happy that it has been achieved. I think the tournament will end up great," Amritraj said.
Asked if the WTA event could be a regular feature in Chennai, Amritraj said, "We need to see how it goes this year. We have got the licence for one year. Also with the desire to host the ATP event, we will have to see how it can be done. But we could end up having it at the same time." "There is a great opportunity between the events in Dubai and Doha in 2024 with regard to hosting a WTA event here. We are looking at a potential WTA 500 event in 2024. We have to see if we can squeeze it in," he added.