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ANKITA WINS FIRST SINGLES TITLE OF 2019 SEASON IN SINGAPORE

Indian tennis player Ankita Raina on Sunday won her first singles title of the 2019 season and eighth overall after trampling top seed Arantxa Rus in straight sets in the final of the USD 25,000 event in Singapore.

Coming into the tournament after competing at the Australian Open Qualifiers, Ankita demolished world number 122 and the Dutch top seed 6-3 6-2 in one hour and 23 minutes.

Ankita toppled four seeded players in the tournament starting with Dutch eighth seed Lesley Kerkhove in the second round.

The gritty 25-year-old followed that up with wins over second seed Uzbek Sabina Sharipova and third seed Conny Perrin from Switzerland.

The 50 points earned from the title triumph are likely to catapult Ankita to a career-high singles rank of 168 when the new WTA list is issued on Monday.

“I’ve been working on my serve for a long while now and I think it’s starting to help. I also feel there’s more power in the strokes. It definitely helped playing the Grand Slam as the first tournament of the year. It gave a lot of positivity and self belief,” Ankita told PTI from Singapore.

“Even though I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t qualify for the Australian Open since I expected that but I was grateful that I had reached where once I used to imagine I would be playing.”

It is Ankita’s fourth title at the USD 25k level and the others were at the USD 10,000 level. Last year she won two titles — Gwalior (25k) and Nonthaburi (25k).

The Asian Games bronze medallist said the changes made to the circuit have made even the USD 25k tournaments much tougher.

“This tournament, even though it was 25k event, was a tough competition as all the qualifying players from Melbourne were here and also the last (in entry) was 250th ranked. I played seeded players from the second round itself and saw a lot of things that I was working on with my coach (Hemant Bendre) a few days ago.

“There were a few things that I needed to work on mentally which I am happy I could work with my coach as he was around before the tournament. He eventually left after the first round match due to other commitments back home.

“Also the things I am working for the last six months are paying off. In fact, we were working on it in the Australian open and will continue,” she added.

Ankita will play two more tournaments before gearing up for the Fed Cup, starting in the first week of February at Astana, Kazakhstan.

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