Tennis

Billie Jean King Cup | ‘Latvia favourites, but we are ready,’ says Ankita Raina

Selfie time: Ankita, Sania and coach Cesar Ferrer-Victoria take a break during training in Dubai.  

Facing Latvia spearheaded by 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko will be a big challenge for India in the upcoming Billie Jean King Cup World Group play-off tie on April 16 and 17.

But India’s No. 1 woman’s tennis player Ankita Raina isn’t worried as she is preparing hard with the ace Sania Mirza in Dubai.

“They will be the favourites, especially the way they played the United States and with their top-50 ranking. But we are ready for this challenge,” said Ankita, catching a breath between her tennis and gym sessions, on Tuesday.

In a season in which she has had a sound start — competing in doubles at the Australian Open, winning a WTA doubles title, and stepping up the quality of her game overall — Ankita felt that she was steadily moving up.

“I have had a good start to the season. Definitely feeling confident about better performances ahead. I can see the improvement in my game. Will do my best to continue and take it forward,” she said.

It was a pleasant surprise for the 28-year-old Ankita to be invited by Sania to stay with her in Dubai and train.

Sania an inspiration

“It is great to train with Sania. She has been a World No. 1 in doubles for long, won Grand Slams and been top-30 in singles. She is an inspiration to all of us, not just tennis players. She is ready to share her experience with us. It is a great opportunity to stay with her, train and converse off court.

“It is even more inspiring to see her passion for the sport after becoming a mother. She has so much to say about tennis and how to prepare for big events. She is giving me minute tips to be more effective,” gushed a thrilled Ankita, a sincere student of the sport.

Having had prior experience of playing some of the world's best players, Ankita knows that one has to compete without worrying about results.

“Yes, both Jelena Ostapenko and Anastasija Sevastova (World No. 47) are good. It is going to be a challenge for us. [But] we all practice day in and day out so that we can face such challenges and make the most of the opportunities,” said Ankita.

The tie will be played on the indoor hard courts at the National Tennis Centre Lielupe in Jurmala.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 6:06:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/billie-jean-king-cup-latvia-favourites-but-we-are-ready-says-ankita-raina/article34256949.ece

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