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Coach’s timely advice helps Ankita Raina win in Mumbai Open tennis

Indian tennis player Ankita Raina won in straight sets against Russian Veronika Kudermetova at the Mumbai Open on Wednesday.

tennis Updated: Nov 22, 2017 22:11 IST
B Shrikant
B Shrikant
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Ankita Raina,tennis,Mumbai Open
Indian tennis player Ankita Raina won in the Mumbai Open on Wednesday.(Getty Images)

On-Court coaching is a much debated issue in tennis. Intervention by coach during the match is frowned upon and banned at Grand Slam tournaments and ATP tour. But on-court coaching is allowed on WTA tour where players can consult their coach once in each set.

India’s Ankita Raina is now a big fan of on-court coaching after timely advice by her coach — twice on Wednesday — helped her calm down, change tactics and upset a higher ranked opponent in the L&T Mumbai Open WTA 125K Series event here.

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Ankita was a set up and going strong at 4-1 in the second set when she lost serve against Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova, who fought back to narrow the margin to 4-3 in their first round clash.

The Indian’s coach Hemant Bendrey came on court to advise her, helping her take the next two games and wrap up a 7-6(2), 6-3 victory. It earned Ankita 15 ranking points, which would help leapfrog from her current WTA ranking of 293 and move closer to her all-time best of 227. If she wins the next round, she may break into the top 200.

Bendrey intervened in the nick of time as Ankita had lost her way a bit at the same juncture in the first set too. She was leading 4-1 when she suddenly slowed down, lost rhythm and started committing errors as her opponent’s game picked up.

Veronika started returning resolutely and aggressively, and Ankita, in her anxiety to close out points, committed errors. In no time, her lead had vanished and the score was 5-5. “He (Bendrey) told me not to lose speed and to be patient and wait for the right opportunity,” said Ankita, whose opponent was ranked 60 spots higher.

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The first set went into tie-breaker but Ankita won easily.

The 24-year-old wild card is the lone Indian left in the singles draw. She will next take on Peangtarn Plipuech of Thailand, who upset Lizette Cabrera of Australia, the sixth seed, 7-6(4), 6-2.

With Sports Authority of Gujarat stepping in to sponsor her, Ankita now has Bendrey travelling with her at home and abroad. The player pointed out the importance of his timely intervention.

“It really helped me today. He was here when we played doubles on Monday and saw how we played. And then we could work yesterday, only for a day but we worked on certain things, and that helped. It (having a travelling coach) definitely makes a difference,” said the player from Ahmedabad.

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Ankita, normally an aggressive player, was advised to play a waiting game. But after taking a handy lead, as the balls got heavy, she was in a dilemma whether to go for her strokes or hold back. Her coach’s intervention put her back on course and she started retrieving the ball more, maintained her rhythm and went for shots when the opportunity came.



1st round

Ankita Raina (IND) bt Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 7-6(2) 6-3

Junri Namigata (JPN) bt Olga Ianchuk (UKR) 6-1 5-4 (ret)

Peangtarn Plipuech (THA) bt Lizette Cabrera (AUS) 7-6(4) 6-2

1-Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) bt Priscilla Hon (AUS) 7-5, 6-1.

2nd round

Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) bt Valentyna Ivakhnenko (RUS) 6-1, 6-4

Sabina Sharipova (UZB) bt Hungary Fanny Stollar (HUN) 3-0 (ret).

Dalila Jakupovic (SLO) bt Carol Zhao (CAN) 6-3, 6-4.

First Published: Nov 22, 2017 22:11 IST