Ankita Raina
Ankita Raina. Image Credit: Courtesy Mauricio Ramos

Dubai: Italian Sara Errani and Indian Ankita Raina were joined by two of the top three seeds in the final round of qualifying as former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard succumbed on the penultimate day of the 2021 Australian Open qualifiers being played at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, on Tuesday.

Italian Errani, a former top-5 singles player and world number one in doubles, fought over an hour and 44 minutes for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Spain’s Georgina Garcia Perez, after 2014 Wimbledon finalist Bouchard had caved in 6-2, 6-4 to China’s Yue Yuan in just 64 minutes.

Top seed Kaja Juvan of Slovenia maintained a steady course for a main draw appearance with a 6-2, 6-4 win against Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina in 75 minutes, while third seed Greet Minnen of Belgium eased through to a 7-5, 6-3 win against Veronica Cepede Royg.

Juvan will now meet Rebecca Sramakova – a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 winner against Renata Zarazua, while Minnen will face Varvara Lepchenko who had also battled for a hard-fought 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 win over Ellen Perez.

Errani, a former winner of nine WTA singles titles and 27 doubles titles, including five Grand Slam doubles crowns, will now run into an in-form Ana Konjuh, one of the wild cards in the qualifying. Konjuh booked her spot for a meeting against the seasoned Italian from Bologna with a convincing 6-4, 6-2 win against Turkey’s Cagla Buyukakcay.

Errani reached a career-high singles ranking of world No.5 in May 2013 after achieving the top spot in the doubles for the first time nearly a year before, in September 2012. The tiny Italian, who had to recently serve a ten-month ban from playing tennis due to a failed drug test, had been the year-end No.1 doubles player in 2013 and 2014 to hold the top ranking for a combined total of 87 weeks.

Bouchard, another former world No.5, has been trying to make her return into the women’s tennis fold after her fall to No.332 in March last year. The Canadian mixed up smaller tournaments with some strong results in some big ones to improve to No.141 by the end of 2020. But, on Tuesday the 26-year-old from Montreal had no answers to a steady mix of game from her Chinese opponent to fall one step short of qualifying to the main event that gets under way at the Melbourne Park from February 8.

Also continuing her exploits at the fast Dubai courts was India’s Ankita Raina with a well-contested 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 win against Katarina Zavatska. The 27-year-old Pune-based girl will now take on Olga Danilovic, a 6-4, 6-1 winner against Sachia Vickery earlier in the day.

“I am extremely pleased with the way things have gone for me here especially as I am vying for my first-ever Grand Slam main draw. The idea is to now improve on certain aspects of my game and give it my best on the final day of qualifying on Wednesday,” Raina told Gulf News.

“I feel very confident with my game. Every match is a new match, it’s a new day and I’ve got to do the same things. The best is to take things match by match,” she added.

Wednesday will be the final round of qualifying that will decide on the 16 winners who will advance to the main draw next month’s Australian Open.


(Round Two of qualifying for the 2021 Australian Open being played at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, on Tuesday) Hailey Baptiste x Maria-Camila Osorio Serrano 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3); Tsvetana Pironkova bt Nae-Lae Han 6-0, 3-6, 6-1; Rebecca Sramkova bt Renata Zarazua 6-4, 4-6, 6-3; Sara Errani bt Georgina Garcia Perez 3-6, 6-3, 6-2; Lesia Tsurenko bt Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove 6-3, 6-2; Timea Babos bt Tessah Andrianjafitrimo 6-3, 2-6, 6-2; Varvara Lepchenko bt Ellen Perez 6-4, 2-6, 6-3; Clara Burel bt Anna Kalinskaya 6-3, 3-6, 6-4; Kaja Juvan bt Anhelina Kalinini 6-2, 6-4; Jia-Jing Lu bt Isabella Shinikova 6-2, 7-5; Ankita Raina bt Katarina Zavatska 6-2, 2-6, 6-3; Margarita Gasparyan bt Mariam Bolkvadze 6-3, 7-6 (3); Olga Danilovic bt Sachia Vickery 6-4, 6-1; Greet Minnen bt Veronica Cepede Royg 7-5, 6-3; Francesca Jones bt Jana Fett 7-6 (7), 2-6, 6-1; Anna Karolina Schmiedlova bt Chihiro Muramatsu 6-4, 6-3; Ana Konjuh bt Cagla Buyukakcay 6-4, 6-2; Aleksandra Krunic bt Daniela Seguel 6-2, 2-6, 6-2; Yue Yuan bt Eugenie Bouchard 6-2, 6-4; Harmony Tan bt Catherine McNally 6-1, 6-4; Liudmila Samsonova bt Robin Anderson 6-0, 6-7 (2), 6-3; Rebecca Marino bt Viktoriya Tomova 6-2, 7-6 (7); Elisabetta Cocciaretto bt Marie Benoit 6-2, 7-6 (2); Chloe Paquet bt Yuki Naito 7-6 (3), 6-2; Ysaline Bonaventure bt Antonia Lottner 6-1, 6-3; Maryna Zanevska bt Tereza Martincova 6-2, 6-3; Valeria Savinykh bt Giulia Gatto Monticone 6-4, 7-6 (8); Mayar Sherif bt Grace Min 6-3, 2-6, 6-1; Kamilla Rakhimova bt Viktorija Golubic 6-2, 6-3.