Prarthana Thombare stayed in the fight for a while but eventually fell 6-4, 7-5 to Veronika Kapshay of Ukraine in the first round of the ONGC-GAIL Delhi Open $25,000 ITF women’s tennis tournament on Monday.

It was a day that saw the Indian women generally struggling to make an impact against quality opposition.

The 19-year-old Prarthana played some of her best tennis to take a 5-2 lead in the second set. However, against a tall opponent with a big serve and a smart game, Prarthana was unable to grab her chances.

In both sets, Prarthana, the World No.401, won early breaks but failed to drive home the advantage, perhaps in her anxiety to go for the big shots against the crafty 27-year-old from Ukraine who looked vulnerable at some stages of the keen contest.

Prerna Bhambri played her best against the top-seeded Erika Sema but found the Japanese too sharp. The wiry and fleet-footed Sema ran down everything but it was to the credit of the national champion that she was able to smack a few winners apart from delivering a few aces, even when going down 6-1, 6-3.

Nidhi Chilumula failed to find any kind of rhythm against Thai girl Peangtarn Plipuech’s unorthodox strokes. Nidhi was unable to cope also with the slow surface with high bounce. She had a number of breakpoints, particularly in the first set and the early part of the second, but failed to capitalise on any, and lost 6-3, 6-2.

The results: First round: Erika Sema (Jpn) bt Prerna Bhambri 6-1, 6-3; Veronika Kapshay (Ukr) bt Prarthana Thombare 6-4, 7-5; Wang Qiang (Chn) bt Shweta Rana 6-2, 6-0; Yurika Sema (Jpn) bt Nicha Lertpitaksinchai (Tha) 7-5, 6-4; Peangtarn Plipuech (Tha) bt Nidhi Chilumula 6-3, 6-2.

Doubles (pre-quarterfinals): Deniz Khazaniuk (Isr) & Ilona Kremen (Blr) bt Sharmadaa Baluu & Natasha Palha 6-2, 6-1; Nicha Lertpitaksinchai & Peangtarn Plipuech (Tha) bt Rika Fujiwara (Jpn) & Sharon Sanchana Paul 6-2, 6-4; Sai Samhitha & Eetee Maheta bt Arantxa Andrady & Anushka Bhargava 6-0, 6-3; Yuliya Beygelzimer (Ukr) & Emily Webley-Smith (GBR) bt Emma Hayman (Nzl) & Shweta Rana 6-1, 6-3; Noppawan Lertcheewakarn & Varatchaya Wongteanchai (Tha) bt Prerna Bhambri & Nidhi Chilumula 6-2, 7-6(1); Ankita Raina & Prarthana Thombare bt Kanae Hisami & Junri Namigata (Jpn) 7-5, 5-7, 10-8.

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