Ankita bows out as In­dian chal­lenge ends in sin­gles

DNA (Delhi) - - SPORT - DNA Cor­re­spon­dent sports@dnain­ —SAL­MAN ANSARI/DNA

Mum­bai: Ankita Raina ended her open­ing WTA Mum­bai Open match — a three-set see­saw bat­tle with Ru­tuja Bhos­ale — at al­most mid­night on Wed­nes­day.

On Thurs­day, she was back on court at 5.30pm to face Danka Kovinic in the pre-quar­ter­fi­nals.. Over­com­ing dengue since her bronze win­ning ef­fort at the Jakarta Asian Games, In­dia’s top-ranked women’s sin­gles player at 197 knew she had to be in her best phys­i­cal shape to get past the 194th-ranked from Mon­tene­gro.

In­stead, Raina was far from it, go­ing down to Kovinic 2-6 5-7 at the CCI courts here on Thurs­day as the In­dian chal­lenge in sin­gles ended at the Mum­bai Open.

“The less re­cov­ery time af­fected me to­day,” Raina said after the de­feat. “It was tough, es­pe­cially since I was down with dengue in Septem­ber, and this has just been my third tour­na­ment since.

“I can usu­ally go three set­ters till the quar­ter­fi­nals, but this time I couldn’t. But I’ll have to work on my fit­ness, I can’t use that (as an ex­cuse) ev­ery time,” she added.

Raina started off slowly against Kovinic, get­ting bro­ken in her open­ing ser­vice game. But she re­sponded im­me­di­ately, con­vert­ing her sixth break point chance to get even and sig­nal that she was in for a fight.

The In­dian, though, couldn’t ride the mo­men­tum, Kovinic strik­ing right back to re­claim her one-break ad­van­tage. Raina sought her coach Hemant Ben­dre’s ad­vice soon after but it did lit­tle to turn things around.

She dished out a cou­ple of dou­ble faults to sur­ren­der her next ser­vice game as well as Kovinic sealed the first set 6-2.

In the sec­ond set, while the In­dian sprang back to life, the Mon­tene­grin dug her­self into a hole of poor first serves and a slew of un­forced er­rors as Raina backed up her hold with a break. Again Raina’s serve let her down, fail­ing to serve for the set as well as stay in the match to squan­der the open­ing.

Raina, a quar­ter­fi­nal­ist at Mum­bai Open last year, said she will now move on to play two more tour­na­ments — in China and Tai­wan — as she looks to make the cut for the Aus­tralian Open qual­i­fiers next year.

In­dia’s Ankita Raina in ac­tion dur­ing her loss to Kovinic at the Mum­bai Open on Thurs­day Mon­tene­gro’s Danka

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