“Playing at the higher level continuously has given me the belief that I belong here” – Ankita Raina

Ankita Raina and partner Ekaterine Gorgodze upset the 2nd seeds at the WTA 125 Chicago event before bowing out in QF. Ankita shares her thoughts on how she has been able to manage singles & doubles, how it feels to be playing at the WTA level, her partner for the US Open, and much more

Ankita and partner Gorgodze in Chicago (Photo – Kartik Saboo)

Q) Singles vs Doubles: Top-100 WTA rank means you will get into WTA tourneys often for doubles, similar to this week. How are you juggling singles and doubles in terms of your schedule planning?

Ankita: I’ve always played doubles and singles every event that I’ve played since I’ve played juniors and even when I started pro circuit. This year as the Olympics was also there I was working more on doubles at that point of time and going to the Olympics, it was such a great opportunity. But otherwise I’ve been playing both singles and doubles at every tournament so I’m going to keep working on both and I also feel that playing doubles has also helped my singles game, so I’m going to keep doing that.

Q) There have been hardly any tourneys in Asia for the past 18 months. While the Europeans and the Americans are playing on their home turf – it has significantly impacted athletes from Asia. What is your perspective and views on this?

Ankita: Yeah definitely the Asian players are finding it tough because we need to sort out the visas and the exemption letters and when it’s finally sorted and you go to the airport it’s not easy there as well because the authorities at the airport have a lot of questions as to the travel details and lot other things that they’ve to check regards to the border regulations of the other countries, so it becomes really stressful and I think players who live in Europe or America have had time to train more and opportunities to play a few more tournaments.

Q) You have been playing lot of top tier events since the pandemic. You have already proved yourself on this stage in doubles now. How do you think your game stacks up to this stage – any improvements that you feel you need to make?

Ankita: All these recent achievements and playing at higher level continuously gives you the confidence and belief that you belong there which I feel much more right now. Any match that I’ve played recently, especially this year, even the matches that I’ve lost were close matches. I’m having opportunities in every match against the top players which is a positive thing to take.

Ankita in Chicago

Q) Tell us about your kick serve which you’ve been working on. Is it anything to do with your shoulder issues (you had problems with your shoulder during the clay season) or it’s a new weapon you’re working on

Ankita: I’ve not had any shoulder issues. I play a lot of weeks. I play a lot of tournaments back to back, around 30 weeks and now due to the pandemic even more weeks because I can’t go back home so I’m like I’ll play wherever I get the opportunity to enter into the draws and compete. I’ve had the kick serve since I was growing and it was my strength compared to my competitors back then in India. But ofcourse serve is a process, it takes time to improve and I’ve been working on it and I definitely feel better as my first serve speed has increased so it does help during the match.

Q) Who will you partner at the US Open?

Ankita: I will be partnering with a Serbian player. She has a protected ranking of 90 and she’s coming back from an injury and she was at the Tokyo Olympics as well. So yeah we will try to sign up together but we will also have see how the entry list is going to be.

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