In the first upset of sorts in this year’s K.S. Narayanan memorial ITF women’s championship, Thailand’s Varunya Wongteanchai breezed past an indisposed Sharrmadaa Baluu 6-1, 6-0 in the second round on Wednesday.

Contending with bouts of vomiting and “stomach infection”, the fifth-seeded Sharrmada’s only high point was the ace she delivered in the first game. After that, things rapidly spiralled downwards. Varunya, for her part, didn’t show any tardiness, polishing off the contest in 46 minutes to advance to the quarterfinals.

In stark contrast to this encounter was the one between third-seeded Rishika Sunkara and qualifier Swetha Sree Hari, which the former laboured to win 6-7(0), 6-4, 6-4.

Over two-and-a-half hours, Rishika was forced to dig deep into her reserves of experience to deny her opponent.

The first set was a capricious affair with slender margins. While Swetha began rousingly with a 2-0 lead, Rishika was hot on her trail, restoring parity immediately. Thereafter, things went on serve and a tie-break ensued. That was surprisingly one-sided with Swetha securing all the points.

Comebacks

In the second set, Rishika raced away to a 4-0 lead before Swetha broke in the fifth game.

Although Rishika broke back in the sixth, Swetha’s performance whirred into life again as she racked up the next three games to make it 4-5. But, in an anti-climax, Rishika cracked the Coimbatore girl’s serve to claim the set in the 10th game.

Swetha, in the decider, mirrored Rishika’s initial burst in the second set. She went up 3-0 before weariness took over. There were a number of long rallies with both players indulging in baseline-slugging. Rishika remained calm, nudging her rival towards making unforced errors, and eked out two hard-earned games.

A tiring Swetha made it 4-2 with some solid backhand play.

The briskly-burning flames of Swetha’s victory were nevertheless doused by the Delhi girl, who pocketed four consecutive games to win the match.

The results: Singles: Second round: Prarthana G. Thombare bt Sharon Sanchana Paul 6-2, 7-6(1); Varunya Wongteanchai (Tha) bt Sharrmadaa Baluu 6-1, 6-0; Xi-Yao Wang (Chn) bt Efriliya Herlina (Ina) 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-4; Nidhi Chilumula bt Pranjala Yadlapalli 7-5, 4-6, 6-1; Eetee Maheta bt Chun-Yan He (Chn) 6-3, 6-1; Rishika Sunkara bt Swetha Sree Hari 6-7(0), 6-4, 6-4; Hirono Watanabe (Jpn) bt Sneha Padamata 6-2, 6-1; Natasha Palha bt Amrita Mukherjee 6-2, 6-1.

Doubles: Quarterfinals: Natasha Palha & Prarthana G. Thombare bt Vaniya Dangwal & Sneha Padamata 6-3, 6-2; Nidhi Chilumula & Xi-Yao Wang (Chn) bt Yui Saikai (Jpn) & Preethi Ujjini 6-0, 6-2; Sharrmadaa Baluu & Rishika Sunkara bt Nithya Raj Babu Raj & Tanisha Rohira 6-1, 6-1; Hirono Watanabe (Jpn) & Varunya Wongteanchai (Tha) bt Amrita Mukherjee & Likitha Shetty 6-2, 6-2.

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