India’s Ankita Raina outlasted Czech veteran Barbora Strycova in 3 sets to complete the 1st-round of matches at the Livesport Prague Open on Wednesday, while Jaqueline Cristian and Kateryna Baindl both advanced from round 2 to the quarter-finals before rain curtailed play.
I will say that for this win, the word 'Lucky Loser' does justice,” Raina said after the match. “For me, this will be one of the most special wins of my career... I had three Indian supporters, apart from my travelling coach, cheering for me after each point. So I am happy Indians are coming to watch and support Indian tennis. Ankita Raina
Raina, a lucky loser, overcame Strycova’s home-court advantage by rallying from an early deficit to a 3-6 6-3 6-4 win after 2 hours and 25 minutes.
37-year old Strycova, who is planning on retiring at the US Open, is a former singles World No 16, a three-time doubles Grand Slam champion, and a fan favourite in Prague.
In the thrilling 3-setter at the WTA 250 hard court event, 30-year old Raina, who had failed to win a game while losing to Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska in the final round of qualifying, ruined Strycova’s farewell party in front of her home fans by fighting her way past the new mother to win her first WTA Tour-level of the season.
Raina, who had the whole stadium except for her travelling coach Anvit Bendre and a lone Indian fan against her, now meets another Czech, 18-year old Linda Noskova, the 4th seed, for a place in the Last 8.
“I will say that for this win, the word ‘Lucky Loser’ does justice,” Raina said after the match. “For me, this will be one of the most special wins of my career.
“The least to say Barbora has been a top player, ranked No 16 in singles and a doubles Grand Slam winner. She won Wimbledon [for the second time in the Czech’s career] this year, after having a baby, which is incredible.
“This is the last year [on the tour] before she retires, and Prague Open was her home tournament. It was a full stadium and she had the whole crowd behind her, so it was a tough match and a good win.
“I had three Indian supporters, apart from my travelling coach, cheering for me after each point. So I am happy Indians are coming to watch and support Indian tennis.”
Strycova, a native of Pilsen, fired 3 aces and saved 5 of 9 break points, but she let a 3-1, third-set lead slip away, as Raina saved 9 of the 12 break points she faced to advance, and won 92 of the 188 points in the match, while the Czech, interestingly, took 96.
The day’s other matches were both 2nd-round affairs, with Cristian from Romania cruising past Colombia’s Emiliana Arango, 6-4 6-3, and Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl picking up a 5-0 win after German Jule Niemeier retired in the first set.
Baindl, the 8th seed, will now face Cristian, who knocked out top-seeded Marie Bouzkova in the 1st-round on Monday.
The remaining scheduled matches either had to be suspended or postponed until Thursday because of rain.
Nevertheless, Britain’s Heather Watson was able to complete her doubles match, which she won alongside Andrea Gamiz from Venezuela.
The pair upset the 4th-seeded Czech team of Anastasia Detuic & Anna Siskova, 6-7(7) 6-3 [10-7], in an hour 43 minutes to reach the quarter-finals.