New Delhi: Ankita Raina on Monday became only the third Indian woman tennis player to breach the top-200 rankings in singles as she jumped 15 places to reach a career-best 197 in the WTA chart.
The 25-year-old Ankita, who trains with Hemant Bendrey when she is in the country, is the first player to achieve the feat since Sania Mirza put India on the singles map with her remarkable achievements over the years.
Ankita is the only third player after Sania and Nirupama Vaidyanathan to made it to top-200. While Sania, winner of six Grand Slam titles in doubles, touched a career-high of 27 in singles in 2007, Nirupama's best rank was 134 in 1997.
"I have done so much hard work and has remained patient to get this point. I was between 200 and 250 bracket for some time and it takes time to break the barrier. It's tough out there," Ankita told PTI from Japan, where she is competing on ITF circuit.
"I went up and down in my career but my coach and my parents kept belief in me. My brother has also supported me in a big way, giving me and my needs priority many times. So without their support it was not possible. I want to thank my coach for having faith in me," she added, getting emotional.
The better rank will help Ankita enter the main draws of the WTA 125k series tournaments.
"I want to play the Grand Slams but the immediate target is to get into 150 and by the end of the year into top-100," she said with confidence.
Meanwhile, Ankita Bhambri, India's Fed Cup coach was ecstatic with the development.
"She is supremely dedicated and passionate. She has this quality of playing with single-mindedness, giving her best all the time. Even when she is not at her best, her attitude to fight and give her all is what sets her apart. It shows her determination," said Bhambri.
"It's absolutely great for woman tennis in India. It will make some impact. We need strong and better-ranked players in Fed Cup to improve our standing. More girls should try and enter the top-200 bracket," Bhambri added.
Surprisingly, Raina was not included in TOP Scheme despite being country's best singles player while lower-ranked players than her were included on recommendation of national observer Somdev Devvarman.
The AITA, later, recommended her name to the ministry for addition in the TOPS but so far no official communication has been made in this regard.
In the singles ranking, talented Karman Kaur Thandi was the next best Indian at number 267.
In the ATP rankings, Yuki Bhambri was the top singles player from India at 105 and was followed by Ramkumar Ramanathan (133), Sumit Nagal (213), Prajnesh Gunneswaran (264) and Arjun Kadhe (396).
In the doubles, Rohan Bopanna was highest-ranked at number 19 and was followed by Divij Sharan (42) and Leander Paes (45).
Updated Date: Apr 10, 2018 15:00 PM