ITF Women’s Open: Ankita, Sahaja in quarters with contrasting wins over Zeel, Riya

Gurugram, Feb 29 (IANS): Ankita Raina and Sahaja Yamplapalli were the only two Indians left in the fray in the singles main draw after they advanced to the quarterfinals of the ITF Women’s Open Gurugram W35 being played at The Tennis Project here on Thursday. Ankita seeded second overcame fighting but yet error-prone Zeel Desai 7-6(4), 6-3 while fifth seed Sahaja faced stiff resistance from wild card entrant Riya Bhatia before prevailing with a 7-6(8), 7-5 margin.

Two other Indians who played the last 16 – Rashmikaa Srivalli Bhamidipaty and Vaishnavi Adkar bowed out but not before staging a brilliant fight against their seeded opponents. While Srivalli lost to seventh seed Jacqueline Cabaj Awad of Sweden after having the advantage of winning the first set 6-1 and then losing 3-6, 6-7(5). Vaishnavi’s journey was halted by the top seed Dalila Jakupovic of Slovenia 6-7(1), 3-6.

In women's doubles, Riya Bhatia joined hands with Michika Ozeki of Japan to upset the third-seeded pair of Anastasia Gasanova and Ekaterina Yashina to enter the semifinals with a 6-4, 6-4 victory. Ankita also made it to the last four with her Kazakhstan partner Zhibek Kulambayeva beating the all-Japanese pair of Akiko Omae and Ikumi Yamazaki 7-5, 7-6(9).

Ankita, the current India No.1, broke Zeel’s serve early in the second game to wrest the initiative. However, Zeel, usually a late starter, broke back and levelled at 2-all. The 31-year-old then won three games on the trot to take a commanding 5-2 lead before Zeel made a superb comeback on the back of some good-looking tennis shots and won the next four games to lead 6-5.

Serving for the set, the lanky lass committed two double faults to lose her serve, facilitating for a tie-break which her senior counterpart won 7-4, after trailing 1-3 after four points.

Ankita similarly began the second set breaking her opponent’s serve in the very first game and kept the advantage as both the opponents held their respective serves until the 9th game when the fancied player broke Zeel’s serve to enter the last eight.

Meanwhile, Sahaja did not expect such a heroic effort from her unseeded opponent. After beginning with a break, the 26-year-old Riya was all the more charged up and played some attacking tennis along both the flanks and maintained a slender 5-3 lead. Three double faults in the 10th game cost her the serve which also took the set into tie-breaker. After the lead exchanged hands several times, finally Sahaja managed to eke out a 10-8 verdict.

In the second set, Sahaja achieved two breaks while conceding one in the first three games before holding on to her serve for a 3-2 lead. Riya then won three consecutive games to go 4-3 up. Once again both the players broke each other’s serve twice before Sahaja achieved the crucial break in the 11th game before serving out for the match. With every point being fought well, Sahaja emerged as the player with better nerves.


Singles Pre-quarterfinals (Indians unless stated): 2-Ankita Raina bt Zeel Desai 7-6 (4), 6-3; 7-Jacqueline Cabaj Awad (SWE) bt Shrivalli Rashmikaa Bhamidipaty 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5); 5-Sahaja Yamalapalli bt WC-Riya Bhatia 7-6 (8), 7-5; 1-Dalila Jakupovic (SLO) bt Vaishnavi Adkar 7-6 (1), 6-3; Yeonwoo Ku (KOR) bt 6-Fanny Ostlund (SWE) 4-6, 6-2, 7-5; 3-Justina Mikulskyte (LTU) bt Yasmine Mansouri (FRA) 6-1, 7-6 (4); Ekaterina Kazionova bt 8-Anastasia Gasanova 3-6, 7-5, 6-4; Zhibek Kulambayeva (KAZ) bt Q-Rinon Okuwaki (JPN) 6-4, 6-3.

Doubles quarterfinals: 2-Jacqueline Cabaj Awad (SWE)/Justina Mikulskyte (LTU) bt Shrivalli Rashmikaa Bhamidipaty/Vaidehi Chaudhari 3-6, 6-4, 10-8; 1-Zhibek Kulambayeva (KAZ)/Ankita Raina bt Akiko Omae (JPN)/Ikumi Yamazaki (JPN) 7-5, 7-6 (9); Riya Bhatia/Michika Ozeki (JPN) bt 3-Anastasia Gasanova/Ekaterina Yashina 6-4, 6-4; 4-Yeonwoo Ku (KOR)/Diana Marcinkevica (LAT) bt Ekaterina Kazionova / Yasmine Mansouri (FRA) 6-4, 6-3.



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Title: ITF Women’s Open: Ankita, Sahaja in quarters with contrasting wins over Zeel, Riya

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