Ankita Raina was thoroughly tested by her Fed Cup teammate Rishika Sunkara before she prevailed 7-6(2), 6-2 in the first round of the ONGC-GAIL Delhi Open $25,000 ITF women’s tennis tournament at the R.K. Khanna Stadium here on Tuesday.
Rishika had the game to tease her opponent, but did not have the conviction in her ability as she tended to be defensive throughout the match.
It only helped Ankita as she persisted with her attacking style of play, even though she too was quite reluctant to take an extra step on court to punch the ball.
Both the players tended to treat the baseline like a ‘Lakshman rekha,’ to be crossed only at one’s peril.
Ankita called the shots early on to take a 4-2 lead despite being broken in the first game. If anything, there was no dearth of service breaks in the match, as there were 14 in all, including six in the short second set.
Ankita played a good tie-break and that tilted the contest that spanned two hours and 21 minutes, in her favour. In the pre-quarterfinals, Ankita will challenge Noppawan Lertcheewakarn of Thailand.
Among other Indians, the 36-year-old Rushmi Chakravarthi stood out for her brave fight against Rika Fujiwara of Japan. Rushmi ran out of steam after winning the first set. In the doubles, Ankita Bhambri and Rushmi found the top-seeded Erika Sema and Yurika Sema of Japan too quick for their comfort.
The results: First round: Rika Fujiwara bt Rushmi Chakravarthi 5-7, 6-3, 6-3; Natasha Palha bt Manya Nagpal 6-2, 6-2; Noppawan Lertcheewakarn (Tha) bt Emily Webley Smith (GBR) 7-5, 6-3; Ilona Kremen (Blr) bt Kanae Hisami (Jpn) 6-1, 6-2; Ankita Raina bt Rishika Sunkara 7-6(2), 6-2; Junri Namigata (Jpn) bt Abigail Guthrie (Nzl) 6-0, 6-3; Yuliya Beygelzimer (Ukr) bt Riya Bhatia 6-2, 6-3; Varatchaya Wongteanchai (Tha) bt Samantha Murray (GBR) 6-2, 6-3; Olga Savchuk (Ukr) bt Sharon Sanchana Paul 6-0, 6-1.
Doubles (pre-quarterfinals): Erika Sema & Yurika Sema (Jpn) bt Ankita Bhambri & Rushmi Chakravarthi 6-0, 6-1.