Ankita Raina became the runners-up in the singles event at ITF 60K Istanbul Lale Cup. The women’s final tennis tournament was held in Istanbul, Turkey, on Monday.

Sixth-seed Raina regained her form as she beat second seeded Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 7-6(9) in the semifinals. In the finals, top seeded Russian professional tennis player Vitalia Diatchenko outplayed Raina to top the event. Diatchenko beat Jana Cepelova of Slovakia 6-0, 6-2 in the semifinals. Ankita, on the other hand, had earlier won her quarter-finals 10-6 in the super tie-break against Cagla Buyukakcay of Turkey.

Ankita Raina’s journey so far:

  • This year started on a winning note for Raina as she defeated the top seed and world No. 122, Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands, and won 6-3, 6-2 in the final of the $25,000 ITF women’s tennis tournament in Singapore in January. It was the first title of the season and eighth singles title of her career. The 26-year-old Raina ranked 203 in the world.
  • With this win, Ankita has risen to her career-best rank of 164 after bowing out in the second round of the Australian Open qualifying event.
  • Earlier this year, at the Australian Open too, Raina showed stellar performance despite losing the second round of the qualifying event.

  • Last year in April, she broke into the top 200, only the fifth Indian woman to do so. She also bagged the bronze at the Asian Games, another feat that only ace Sania Mirza could win.
  • The Ahmedabad-born girl started playing tennis at the age of five. The champ comes from a middle-class Kashmiri family. Drawing inspiration from Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Sania Mirza and Roger Federer. She is, so far, India’s quickest players on the courts. Raina is coached by Hemant Bendre at the PYC Hindu Gymkhana in Pune.
  • Ankita’s first professional performance was at an ITF tournament in Mumbai in 2009. Ankita has also won six singles and thirteen titles on the ITF tour.

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Career Highlights

  • Raina’s first professional singles title came in 2012, in New Delhi, where she also won three doubles titles.
  • In October 2013, Raina achieved a career-high singles ranking of 291.
  • In 2015, she reached her best singles ranking of world number 222. In the same year for doubles, she was ranked at world number 260.
  • The year 2016 was a turning point in her career when she won gold medals in women’s singles and mixed doubles events at the South Asian Games.

  • Raina is the fifth Indian national to crack to top-200 ladies’ singles rankings. With this, she joined the league of Sania Mirza, Nirupama Vaidyanathan, Shikha Uberoi and Sunitha Rao. If the ranking stays stable and she betters her scores, then Ankita will get to enter the main draw of the WTA 125k series tournaments.
  • She put on a stellar show during the Fed Cup Asia, remaining undefeated throughout the week while beating top-100 players like Lin Zhu of China and Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.

Feature Image Credit: NDTV

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