It was a pretty good week for Ankita Raina on the Chinese soil, as she finished as runners-up in the doubles, partnering Dutchwoman Rosalie Van der Hoek in the big $100K ITF event in Suzhou. She also had a commendable run till the quarterfinal in singles where she went down to the 4th seed Zhu Lin 4-6 4-6. This run in the doubles will also mean that Ankita will break into the top-150 for the first time in her career.
“Proud with the way we fought this week. China is never easy conditions and especially the off-court situations affects you mentally which reflects on court, but with all of that we both were still laughing and enjoying every moment, also during the match and I think that helped. We enjoy each other’s company off court as well so that helps and she is always cracking jokes and quite relaxed so that is good,” said Ankita after her run this week.
Ankita started the week on a strong foothold in singles, by felling the 8th seed & world #163 Valeria Savinykh with ease in the opening round. She came from a set down to knock out Hanyu Guo in the second round, but eventually lost to #106 Lin Zhu in the quarters.
Expressing her thoughts on her performance this week Ankita said, “In Singles, I felt I could have gone further in terms of result but was satisfied with game, as I’ve been working on couple things. So I was glad that I could incorporate that during the matches. As far as doubles I concerned, I felt I could have played better in every match from the second round, but the positive thing is that it’s important to fight and give your best when you know you can do better. It’s a different kind of confidence that I’m feeling after this week is and I’m going to move ahead with the positives.”
Entering the doubles event as third seeds, Ankita & Rosalie made their way out of a couple of tough spots and had three three-setters in four matches. In the quarterfinals, they saved three match points and won the match tie breaker 15-13. In the semifinals, the Indo-Dutch pair came from a set down and closed out a close match 4-6 7-5 10-8 against Serbian duo of Jaksic & Kostic. They went up against the second seeds Jiang/Tang in the finals and had won the first set, when Ankita’s partner pulled up a hamstring at 1-3 in the second set. They eventually lost the finals 6-3 3-6 5-10.
Being a gritty player herself, Ankita was all-praise for her partner Rosalie and elaborated in detail about their partnership – “It was the second time that me and Rosie teamed up together, first was this year in Lausanne during the WTA. There even though we lost a very close match in the super tiebreaker against the top seeds, we felt comfortable playing with each other the first time itself. I’m all praises for Rosie because in the second round itself she hurt her hamstring and was struggling to even stand but she didn’t retire and continued playing.”
“She saved us couple match points in that match by diving here and there with that limping leg. So I was very surprised to see that even with the injury she told me don’t worry about me I’ll manage, focus on your game and let’s fight back! At that moment I told myself I don’t know what I’ve to do but I’m not leaving this match. And also yesterday we had similar situation but she didn’t give up or retire. So learnt something new this week with her. She’s quite funny so even in that serious situation she said something funny and we cracked up on court and I was literally on floor laughing.”
Further sharing her insights on the court conditions in Suzhou, Ankita said, “Courts were slow and bouncy which is fine for me. Centre court was slightly different to outside match courts and many times the ball would also skid. I was there early so had two days to get used to with the conditions. It was quite cold the first two rounds which also affects the playing conditions so I tried new routines this week which I felt helped me but later it got warmer and sunnier so that was good weather.”
Ankita was a bit surprised on realizing that she will break into the top-150 in doubles. “I think with that it will be a new milestone that I will achieve since I will be breaking into the top-150 for the first time in singles/doubles any category. I’m going to take this confidence and I’m sure the singles will follow as I keep improving. Improvement is the key, results will follow.”
“This week I was by myself and was happy with the way I followed all my routines whether it was warm up, recovery or diet. I’m still trying to find sponsors which will help me to travel with one more person till then I’m managing here and there. Hopefully, I can take someone in the coming weeks,” signed off the Indian #1, when asked about travelling with her support staff.
This article was first published here.