Ankita Raina one step away from making Australian Open main draw

Ankita Raina ground out a three-set victory against Zavatska. Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Ramkumar Ramanathan, however, lost their respective matches.

By Rahul Venkat ·

India’s Ankita Raina is one win away from making her Grand Slam debut as she beat Ukranian Katarina Zavatska 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 in the second round of the Australian Open 2021 qualifiers on Tuesday.

Raina, ranked 180th in women’s singles on the WTA, began well, fighting hard to hold serve in the first two games.

The Indian tennis player then attacked the 118th-ranked Zavatska’s serve in the fourth game, creating a break opportunity and converted it at the second time of asking to move into a 3-1 lead.

That soon became 5-1 as Ankita Raina broke through Zavatska again but was unable to win the first set as she ended up losing her own service game next.

However, Raina did not let that setback affect her as she broke the Ukranian’s serve for a third-consecutive game to close out the first set 6-2.

The second set was a more straightforward affair as Zavatska regained her composure while rattling Raina, who ended up conceding two of her service games to go down 2-6 and force a third set.

Both players were cautious in the decider, as they eliminated any risky ploys but Zavatska was the first to cave as she lost serve in the fourth game to hand Ankita Raina a 3-1 lead.

Though the Indian tennis player was broken in the seventh game, she did not give up, breaking Zavatska right back in the eighth and then saved three break points in the subsequent game to wrap up the set and the match.

Ankita Raina will now face Serbian Olga Danilovic for a spot in the Australian Open women’s singles main draw on Wednesday.

Prajnesh, Ramkumar out

Meanwhile, Prajnesh Gunneswaran’s hopes of playing a third-consecutive Australian Open were dashed as he fell 6-2, 6-3 to Frenchman Constant Lestienne in the second round of the Australian Open 2021 qualifiers.

The 128th-ranked Prajnesh Gunneswaran, the highest of any Indian tennis player on the ATP, had beaten Brayden Schnur on Monday.

However, he began inauspiciously in the second round, losing his serve in just the second game and conceded it again in the eighth game to lose the opening set.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran’s serve, which he considers one of his biggest weapons, let him down on the day as he fought to constantly save break points.

Lestienne, ranked 227th on the ATP, broke the Indian twice more in the second set to wrap up a comfortable straight-sets victory.

Ramkumar Ramanathan’s dream of a maiden Grand Slam campaign was extended as he fell 6-3, 6-2 to Taiwan’s Wu Tung-lin in the second round of the Australian Open 2021 qualifiers.

Ramanathan, who beat the higher-ranked Facundo Bagnis in the first round, was unable to deal with the pressure situations well as he conceded his serve thrice across two sets to bow out.