Ankita Raina denied Kanika Vaidya a fairytale victory as she defeated the qualifier 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the ONGC $10,000 ITF women’s tennis tournament on Saturday.

The cool and overcast conditions was a welcome change from the humid weather experienced throughout the week. The finalists thrived under the pleasant atmosphere and produced a contest worthy of a final.

Top seed Ankita was especially in impressive form and benefitted from playing a callow opponent. After the match, Kanika herself admitted that “inexperience” hurt her significantly.

However, it would be unfair to claim Kanika crumbled under the pressure of playing in a final. The tall teenager’s deep returns of serve and killer forehand troubled Ankita considerably, especially in the opening set.

Ankita responded by attacking Kanika’s backhand with ferocity. The 20-year-old elicited 23 errors from Kanika’s backhand, unforced and forced combined.

Serving well

Serving well was, perhaps, more imperative in this match since both players possess powerful serves. Ankita won this part hands down.

She delivered 81% first serves and Kanika failed to return on 17 occasions. Tellingly, Kanika’s first serve count remained at 41%. Seven double faults further weakened her cause. Two of those faults arrived as early as the fourth game, with Kanika committing the second on game point to gift Ankita a 3-1 lead. The advantage was lost in the following game, though, thanks to consecutive forehand errors from Ankita at deuce.

The set’s decisive moment did not arrive until the 10th game, a poor backhand volley from Kanika giving her opponent two chances to break. Kanika’s forehand error ensured Ankita did not require the second opportunity. Losing the opening set did not dampen the teenager’s morale, though; she broke Ankita twice in her first three games of the following set. However, Ankita wrestled the advantage back both times and served better to take a 5-4 lead.

Serving to stay in the match proved to be an onerous task for Kanika, as consecutive double faults at 0-15 granted her opponent three match points.

Ankita earned 12 ranking points and the winner’s trophy on the next point when Kanika’s 32nd unforced error finished the match.

Ankita, who had also won last month’s $10,000 event here, claimed she played better tennis this time around, making fewer errors.

The 20-year-old added that she had worked hard on her serve lately and it paid off during the week.


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