Pune: India No. 1 and fourth seed Ankita Raina kept the country's hopes alive in singles in the USD 25,000 NECC-ITF women's tennis tournament in progress here when she entered the semi-finals after defeating Serbian rival Nina Stojanovic in straight sets on Thursday.
The 21-year-old Ahmedabad-born Ankita ranked 294 in the world - kept herself firmly in the hunt for her first career title in the USD 25,000 category by shrugging off the challenge put up by her Serbian opponent with a clinically efficient 6-3 6-4 quarter-final victory at the Deccan Gymkhana hard courts.
Ankita, who has to her credit four USD 10,000 ITF women's titles in the past - out of which three came her way last year- and had risen to a career-high WTA ranking of 262 in the middle of the current year - would meet Romanian qualifier Cristina Ene ranked a lowly 576 in the semis.
Ene got the better of Swede Ellen Allgurin 6-4 6-2 in the quarter final. Ankita, who has a career record of 104 wins to 76 losses in singles play prior to this tournament and would be hoping to stretch it further all the way to the title, broke her rival's serve four times while dropping hers twice in the match.
The 18-year-old Serb girl from Belgrade, ranked 461st, also served four double faults as compared to the Indian girl's lone one. The other semi-final would be fought by British no.6 Katy Dunne and third-seeded Georgian Sofia Shapatava.
Dunne shocked top seeded Ukrainian Anastasia Vasylyeva, ranked 174th coming into the tournament, 6-4 6-3 in another quarter final tie. Shapatava was given some anxious moments by qualifier Magdalena Frech of Poland before taking her place in the last four with a 6-7 (1) 6-4 6-2 quarter final victory.