Ankita Raina

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Graphic courtesy: The Times of India

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Beats world No. 81 Yulia Putintseva

February 9, 2018: The Times of India

For a second day in a row, Ankita Raina gave a display well above and beyond her current ranking of 253 on the WTA table.

India’s No. 1 women’s player stunned world No. 81 Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan — the secondhighest ranked player here — with a scoreline reading 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 in two hours and 25 minutes of stunning tennis. Ankita, who had stunned Lin Zhu of China on Wednesday, pulled off one of the biggest wins of her career against a player ranked in the top-30 just last year.

However, just like on Day One, Ankita’s show couldn’t prevent India’s defeat to Kazakhstan in this Fed Cup Asia-Oceania Group I Pool A tie.

The hosts once again went down 1-2 with Karman Kaur Thandi losing 3-6, 2-6 to world no. 55 Zarina Diyas in just an hour’s time. Then, Diyas and Putintseva combined to defeat Ankita and Prarthna Thombare 6-0, 6-4 in an hour and two minutes.

The result of the tie doesn’t take away any shine off Ankita’s performance on the day. Like Wednesday, the Gujarat girl came out swinging against the 2016 French Open quarterfinalist.

Putintseva, who lost the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy final to Kristina Mladenovic last year, is no pushover. The Moscow-born star has been representing Kazakhstan for the last six years. She was powerful on both flanks, and was backed by an equally impressive serve.

Ankita, who celebrated her 25th birthday last month, wasn’t prepared to take the backward step against her higher-ranked opponent. The Indian maintained a very high first-serve percentage (76%) and made very few errors throughout the match. One break of serve in the eighth game was enough for Ankita to secure the first set. The loss of the first set rattled Putintseva, who appears to be someone who wears her emotions on her sleeve. Ankita made full use of the loss of concentration by breaking serve again in the first game of the second set.

The Kazakhs even demanded that the music on the loudspeakers — the Chak De India song — between games be shut off as well. Tournament director Col. Ranbir Chauhan of the All-Indian Tennis Association had to intervene to ensure that music continued to be played to keep the home players motivated and the crowd cheerful.

Ankita appeared to be in the driver’s seat but couple of horrendous line-calls at 40-40 in the second game gave the break right back to Putintseva. The line calls seemed to have thrown Ankita off her game.

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