Australian Open draw: Ankita Raina set for Grand Slam doubles debut

Top-ranked Indian doubles players Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan will lead India's challenge at the first major of the season

By Samrat Chakraborty ·

India's campaign at the Australian Open 2021, slated to get underway from Monday, will be spearheaded by men's doubles players Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan.

Veteran India tennis player Bopanna found a partner in Japan's Ben McLachlan in men’s doubles after Joao Sousa, whom he was supposed to play with, contracted Covid-19 and could not make the trip to the first Grand Slam of the year.

McLachlan, incidentally, also saw his partner pull out of the tournament. It will be the first time that the Indian tennis star will be pairing up with the 28-year-old doubles specialist.

Bopanna-McLachlan will take on South Korean wildcard entrants of Ji Sung Nam and Min-Kyu Song in the opening round.

Meanwhile, 34-year-old Sharan and his partner Igor Zelenay, who managed to get two matches under their belt at the Murray River Open, have been drawn against the German pair of Yannick Hanfmann and Kevin Krawietz in the opening round.

The Indo-Slovak pair lost 6-7 (5), 4-6 to fifth-seeded French pair of Fabrice Martin-Jeremy Chardy in the pre-quarterfinals of the Murray River Open.

India's top-ranked women's player, in singles and doubles, got a lucky break as she made it to the women's doubles draw at the Melbourne major. Raina had lost in the last round of qualifying in singles and had travelled to Melbourne in the hope of sneaking into the singles main draw as a lucky loser.

Though Raina missed the cut in singles, she is set to become only the third Indian woman, after Nirupama Sanjeev and Sania Mirza, to feature in an Australian Open main draw.

The 28-year-old Raina, who has paired up with Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu, will take on the Australian pair of Olivia Gadecki and Belinda Woolcock in the opening round. Raina is ranked 119th in women's doubles while her partner is 193 in the world.