Indian players endured a cheerless Tuesday at the Royal Indian Open, with three tumbling out in the first round at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex here.
Nidhi Chilumula, Prerna Bhambri and Rishika Sunkara all lost in straight sets, leaving Rutuja Bhosale the country’s only representative in the competition. The tournament’s major names advanced, although not with the same ease.
The former world number nine Andrea Petkovic survived a late evening scare against Georgia’s Sofia Shapatava.
Among the home players, the qualifier Nidhi was the first to fall, losing in straight sets to Turkey’s Cagla Buyukakcay. The National champion Prerna was next to depart, having been drawn against the second seed Misaki Doi.
Getting something against a player ranked 97 in the world was always going to be hard for Bhambri, and the gulf in class was evident. Doi shut her out of the first set, before taking the second 6-2, the whole affair lasting less than an hour. Rishika Sunkara, also a qualifier, had little better luck, suffering 6-0, 6-3 at the hands of Japan’s Kimiko Date-Krumm.
For the top seed Nina Bratchikova, meanwhile, victory looked far from guaranteed against Thailand’s Nudnida Luangnam. The Russian had to dig deep at the beginning, having to save four break points in the first set before securing it 6-4. The second was slightly simpler, Bratchikova eventually wrapping the match up 6-4, 6-3.
Petkovic had remarked on Sunday that she intended to pose with the trophy in a week’s time, but the sixth seed looked a world away from such glories at 5-3 down in the opening set. She clawed her way back, though, to force a tie-breaker and secure the set. The second set was another stern test, but the German held on to win.
Her relief found expression in a little jig at the end, much to the amusement of the crowd. “My coach told me in the first set that if I won this one I had to do something special,” Petkovic said afterwards of her dance steps on the court. “I was surprised that she came at me so aggressively, but it’s good to play a difficult game early on.” On Wednesday, Rutuja will face the seventh seed Elina Svitolina in the second round.
The results (first round):
Singles: Olga Savchuk (Ukr) bt Kurumi Nara (Jap) 6-2, 6-2; Eva Birnerova (Cze) bt Stephanie Bengson (Aus) 6-2, 7-5; Nina Bratchikova (Rus) bt Nudnida Luangnam (Tha) 6-4, 6-3; Cagla Buyukakcay (Tur) bt Nidhi Chilumula (Ind) 6-2, 6-1; Misaki Doi (Jap) bt Prerna Bhambri (Ind) 6-0, 6-2; Kimiko Date-Krumm (Jap) bt Rishika Sunkara (Ind) 6-0, 6-3; Oksana Kalashnikova (Geo) bt M. Adamczak (Aus) 7-5, 6-3; T. Tanasugarn (Tha) bt Chin-Wei Chan (Tpe) 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-1; Andrea Petkovic (Ger) bt Sofia Shapatava (Geo) 7-6(4), 7-5.
Doubles: Yi-Fan Xu & Yi-Miao Zhou (Chn) bt Su Jeong Jang & So-Ra Lee (Kor) 6-2, 6-3.