Ankita Raina played a vibrant all-round game to outclass the fifth-seeded Noppawan Lertcheewakarn of Thailand 6-3, 6-1 in the pre-quarterfinals of the ONGC-GAIL Delhi Open $25,000 ITF women’s tennis tournament on Thursday.
Playing on the relatively faster court No.1 at the DLTA Complex, the 21-year-old Ankita stroked away with resounding confidence. Her conviction in her ability was evident as she bounced right back after dropping serve in the first game to stretch the former junior World No.1 on both flanks, and smacking winners at will.
The big-built Thai, though limited in terms of movement, had lethal strokes and a strong serve, and big-match experience.
Ankita, though, played without a worry. From 1-3, she reeled off seven games on the trot to gain a stranglehold over the proceedings, and allowed Lertcheewakarn only one face-saving game after that as she closed the match out.
“I had to believe in myself and my game. I am happy to have stayed focused throughout, and played my best game,” said Ankita.
“I think we tend to feel shocked or surprised when we do well against good opponents. Eventually, it is close, and we have to just play with belief and take our chances,” said Ankita, who faces third seed Yuliya Beygelzimer of Ukraine in the quarterfinals.
National champion Natasha Palha played well but could not match her seventh-seeded opponent, Ilona Kremen of Belarus beyond a point going down 6-3, 6-4.
In doubles, Rishika Sunkara and Abigail Guthrie lost a close quarterfinal match to Lertcheewakarn and Varatchaya Wongteanchai of Thailand.
The Indo-Kiwi pair had led 4-3 in the second set after winning the first, but dropped three games on the trot as both dropped serve. In the match tie-break, the Thai pair took a 7-0 lead before closing out the match 2-6, 6-4, 10-3.
On Wednesday night, Sharmada Balu played her heart out but failed to capitalise on 10 set-points in a marathon first set tie-break, to lose 7-6(20), 7-6(4) to Varatchaya Wongteanchai.
The battle lasted three hours and 19 minutes.
Sharmada led 4-0 and then 5-2 in the first set, before losing her way against a defensive opponent who chopped and sliced everything back at a slower pace.
Sharmada had a chance to take it to the decider serving at 6-5, but dropped serve, and the Thai wrapped it up in the tie-break.
The results: Pre-quarterfinals: Yurika Sema (Jpn) bt Rika Fujiwara (Jpn) 6-3, 0-1 retired; Ilona Kremen (Blr) bt Natasha Palha 6-3, 6-4; Ankita Raina bt Noppawan Lertcheewakarn (Tha) 6-3, 6-1; Yuliya Beygelzimer (Ukr) bt Junri Namigata (Jpn) 6-3, 6-3; Varatchaya Wongteanchai (Tha) bt Sharmada Balu 7-6(20), 7-6(4).
Doubles: Quarterfinals: Erika Sema & Yurika Sema (Jpn) bt Deniz Khazaniuk (Isr) & Ilona Kremen (Blr) 6-4, 7-6(5); Noppawan Lertcheewakarn & Varatchaya Wongteanchai (Tha) bt Abigail Guthrie (Nzl) & Rishika Sunkara 2-6, 6-4, 10-3.