India No.1 Ankita Raina was at her fighting best, beating French wildcard Emeline Dartron in a tight three set match on Court 12. With a partisan French crowd supporting her on cold and windy day, Dartron managed to make a comeback from 5-7 2-5 down, levelling things up at 5-7 7-5. But Raina managed to put it away mentally, upped her game, and managed to come through 6-2 in the third set.
Speaking after the match, Raina said she was happy to come through with a win. Excerpts from the interview below:
Q) How do you feel? It was topsy-turvy.
AR – It was the first match. So it’s good to have the win. It was the first match for both players so we were trying to settle into the tournament, so I am proud of that. Obviously, I had chances to close it earlier both in the first set and in the second set. But that’s Tennis. I think also with the clay surface, and the big difference between old and new balls, it changes the game immediately and drastically.
Q) You lost the second set from 5-2 up. How difficult was it for you to reset mentally?
AR – Like I said, that’s Tennis. I tried to be in the present moment and stick to my style of play. Obviously, the opponent will try to put me out of the court and push me back, which could put me in trouble. But I think I did well to stick to my plan.
Q) Yesterday when you were practising the weather was completely different. It was sunny. But today it was cold and windy. Did that play a part?
AR – Oh yeah the weather. I completely forgot to mention that. But I’ve been in Europe for the last few weeks, which really helped. I was playing in Nottingham, which was much worse (laughs). It was windy from morning to evening all week. It was ugly tennis and you just had to put the ball in to win, and if you tried to play tennis, you just couldn’t. It was another thing, because in colder conditions the ball travels slower. The sun changes things.
Q) She took a medical time out in the middle of a game….
AR – I just questioned it. I have always been told that you can’t take a medical timeout in the middle of a game. Then they said “if she can’t continue to play, then she can”. So I was like okay.
Q) You play 30th seed Uchijima next. You played her in BJK Cup in April in a close three set match. Any thoughts?
AR – It’s good that I played her recently, as I hadn’t played her lately. So it’s good to know how she plays as that helps. I know what I have to do. Of course, it’s a different surface. I’ll sit with my coaches – Anvit (Bendre) and Hemant (Bendre) Sir, and come up with a plan.