Ankita Raina on Sunday became only the fifth Indian woman athlete in the Open era to secure an area within the main draw of a slam as she cut the women’s doubles event of the Australian Open. The year’s first slam starts here on Monday. After missing out on the women’s singles main draw, she still had an opportunity to qualify as a ‘lucky loser’ till the completion of the primary round, but the 28-year-old realized her long-time dream when she signed up with Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu and earned an immediate entry. Nirupama Mankad 1971, Nirupama Vaidyanathan 1998 Sania Mirza, and Indian-American Shikha Uberoi (2004) have completed within the slam main draws for the country.

Ankita is merely the second Indian after Sania a six-time slam champion to compete within the women’s doubles of a tennis major. Nirupama was the primary to crack a singles slam in the main drawback in 1998 at the Australian Open while Nirupama Mankad played the 1971 Wimbledon mixed doubles with Anand Amritraj. Shikha had competed within the 2004 US Open and reached the singles second round. The braveheart, who played a key role in the Indian Fed Cup team’s tremendous progress, said although singles hold a special significance making the doubles too is special.

It’s the first main draw of a slam so singles or doubles, I will be able to take it. It’s special. Years of diligence toil and now I’m there. Not only my diligence but blessings and support of countless people have brought me here I can not forget that Ankita told PTI after her entry. I know it doubles but India’s name is going to be there. These are the moments that spark something among people. Maybe a couple of will start dreaming that it’s possible she added.

People start believing. We touch many small milestones but this one is at a pinnacle. Anyone who starts playing tennis, dreams of playing during a slam. I will be able to take it. I kept at it. I stayed within the process. Maybe next time, I will be able to play singles too. After years of diligence, it’s starting with doubles but singles will happen. It’s first, so special she added.

Ankita said initially she didn’t find her name within the draw and was disappointed. I can’t believe it, I missed my name on the sheet. After practice, I asked for the draw and frantically searched for my name. I didn’t find it. Then my coach called me to mention I even have made it, she said.

Ankita had signed up with Romanian southpaw Mihaela who was a top-50 singles player before injury pegged her back, on Friday. they’re going to open their campaign against the Australian A friend told me that Mihaela is trying to find a partner. I spoke to her and she or he agreed. I even have not played together with her before but I even have played with a lefty on the tour. It makes an honest combination. I’m looking forward thereto.

India’s Fed Cup captain Vishal Uppal said the feat will give Ankita more belief. It’s good that she possesses the opportunity to play with the simplest. it’ll give her the assumption that she belongs there. She is an extremely hard-working, industrious player. She keeps fighting. She is trying to seek out her feet within the major league. She may be a solid baseliner, if she adds a few variations she will recover, he added.

India will have four Indians competing within the season’s first slam. Sumit Nagal will compete within the men’s singles while Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan will present their challenge within the men’s doubles with their respective partners. Naval has drawn Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis as his first-round opponent. Bopanna and his Japanese partner Ben McLachlan will combat Korean wild card entrants Ji Sung Nam and Min-Kyu Song. Sharan and his Slovakian partner Igor Zelenay will combat the German combo of Yannick Hanfmann and Kevin Krawietz.