Melbourne: Ankita Raina on Sunday qualified for the doubles event of the Australian Open and became the third Indian woman to secure a place in the main draw of a Grand Slam.
Ankita along with her Romanian partner Mihaela Buzarnecu earned a direct entry for the doubles event. Only Sania Mirza and Nirupama Vaidyanathan have competed in the Grand Slam main draws for India before. The 28-year-old became only second Indian after six-time Grand Slam champion Sania to take part in the women's doubles of a tennis major. Nirupama was the first to crack a Grand Slam main draw, back in 1998 at the Australian Open.
Ankita and Mihaela will play against the Australian wild card pair of Olivia Gadecki and Belinda Woolcock in the first round.
India's ace tennis player Sumit Nagal will also compete in the men's singles event. He will face Lithuania's Ricardas Berankis in the first-round clash on Monday. Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan will present their challenge in the men's doubles with their respective partners.
Australian Open is all set to welcome the top seed players like Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Serena Williams, Ash Barty and Simona Halep among others to compete for the Grand Slam title, which commences on February 8.
The Australian Open 2021 will also be the first major Grand Slam which will welcome a live audience back in the tournament since the coronavirus pandemic.