Ankita Raina falls one step short of Australian Open main draw

Ankita Raina battled hard in her bid to make a Grand Slam debut, dragging the match against Olga Danilovic to three sets, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

By Rahul Venkat ·

India’s Ankita Raina will have to wait some more time to play her maiden Grand Slam as she fell in the final round of the Australian Open 2021 qualifiers.

The 180th -ranked Raina, the highest of any Indian tennis player on the WTA, lost 2-6, 6-3, 1-6 to Serbian Olga Danilovic.

Ankita Raina, who had beaten the higher-ranked Katarina Zavatska in three sets on Tuesday, began poorly, losing serve twice in the first three games to trail 3-0.

However, she clawed back in the match by breaking the 19-year-old Danilovic in the fourth game and then played out of her skin to hold serve and neutralise some of the disadvantage.

Ankita Raina though ended up losing serve again in the seventh game and her opponent duly served out to win the first set comfortably.

Unfazed, Raina bounced back remarkably in the second set, winning the first game on serve before stretching Danilovic during her service game, finally converting the third break point to take a 2-0 lead.

It turned out to be the only break of serve from either player as Raina held on to win the second set and force a deciding set. But this is where her fatigue kicked in.

Having played a gruelling three-setter in the Dubai heat just a day earlier, Ankita Raina did not have the energy to mount a spirited challenge.

The Indian tennis player lost her serve twice in the first four games, with Danilovic calmly building a 5-0 lead in the third set.

Ankita Raina was in danger of conceding serve a third-consecutive time in the sixth game, but she saved a break point to win the service game and make it 5-1.

However, it was only delaying the inevitable as Danilovic quickly served out the next game to win the set definitely and with it, earn a spot in the main draw of the women’s singles at the Australian Open to make her Grand Slam debut next month.

Ankita Raina’s loss means that Sumit Nagal - who earned a wildcard entry - will be the only Indian tennis player in, either of the men’s or women’s, singles main draw of the Australian Open.

However, Ankita Raina could yet make her Grand Slam debut as one of the 'lucky losers'. A lucky loser is a player who has lost in the qualifiers but can be slotted in if any player from the main draw withdraws from the Australian Open. Ankita, who only fell in the final round, will be leading the list of 'lucky losers' if at all any player opts out of the Grand Slam.