(Asian News Hub) – Ankita Raina, on Sunday, became only the fifth Indian woman tennis player to secure a place in the main draw of a Grand Slam as she made the cut for the women’s doubles event of the Australian Open.
After missing out on the women’s singles main draw, she still had a chance to qualify as a ‘lucky loser’ till the completion of the first round, but the 28-year-old realised a long-time dream when she signed up with Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnecu and earned a direct entry.
Nirupama Mankad (1971), Nirupama Vaidyanathan (1998), Sania Mirza and Indian-American Shikha Uberoi (2004) have competed in the Grand Slam main draws for the country.
Ankita is only the second Indian after Sania, a six-time Grand Slam champion, to compete in the women’s doubles of a tennis major.
Nirupama was the first to crack a singles Grand Slam main draw, back in 1998 at Australian Open, while Nirupama Mankad played the 1971 Wimbledon mixed doubles with Anand Amritraj.
Shikha had competed in the 2004 US Open and reached the singles second round.
Now India will have four Indians competing in the season’s first Grand Slam.
Sumit Nagal will compete in the men’s singles while Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan will present their challenge in the men’s doubles with their respective partners.
Nagal has drawn Lithiania’s Ricardas Berankis as his first round opponent.
Bopanna and his Japanese partner Ben McLachlan will take on Korean wild card entrants Ji Sung Nam and Min-Kyu Song.
Sharan and his Slovakian partner Igor Zelenay will take on German combo of Yannick Hanfmann and Kevin Krawietz. (Agencies)