‘It is very encouraging to see Ankita have those couple of wins against the top 100 players’
Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza feels Ankita Raina's performance in the recent Fed Cup was encouraging but the team must progress to the next level.
India retained their place in the Asia/Oceania Group 1 with a 2-0 win over Chinese Taipei in the Fed Cup relegation play-off last week. India had lost to China and Kazakhstan in the competition.
"We have always come back empty handed. We see great progress in young talent but never make the next jump. That is something we are totally missing," Sania said, in New Delhi, on Tuesday.
"It is very encouraging to see Ankita have those couple of wins against the top 100 players. Even though they came out on the losing end of the tie you still have to take the small positive out," she added.
Asked about who has the potential to be the next Sania, the 31-year-old said the she should not be the benchmark for the upcoming talent.
"I have been asked about who is the next Sania for many many years and I have always said why next Sania? We should try to aim better than Sania. Why just me."
Sania, whose doubles ranking has dipped to 14 due to a injury lay-off, feels persistence is the key to success and the young generation must keep working hard.
Winner of six Grand Slam titles, Sania, has been out of action since October 2017 due to an injury in her right knee but she is hopeful for a French Open comeback.
"I don't really have a time frame (for recovery) right now, I cannot put a date to it. Every day is battle for me. But French Open is in may end, hopefully I will be back by then," she said.
Asked about the return of stalwarts like Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova to the circuit, Sania said women's tennis has unbelievable depth.
"Women's tennis has never been a monopoly besides Serena. Apart from her it was always sort of anyone. It was only when Serena loses that it becomes wide open," she said.
"Women's tennis has unbelievable depths and therefore you see many low-ranked players defeating a world No 5 or a No 2. Serena will be back and I think she's the greatest tennis player we have ever had," Sania added.