Rutuja Bhosale pulled off a stunning three-set win over So-Ra Lee to advance into the second round of the Royal Indian Open at the Shiv Chhattrapati Sports Complex here on Monday.
The 16-year-old wild-card had lost the opening set but produced a remarkable comeback, taking the second in the tie-break before overpowering her opponent in the third. In a see-saw contest that lasted two hours and 40 minutes, Rutuja upended the South Korean 3-6, 7-6, 6-4.
The result is of no small significance. Rutuja will earn 22 WTA points for her win, a development that — as she remarked on Sunday — can alter her entire calendar. Even taking a $10,000 ITF title, by contrast, fetches a player only 12 points.
The first set had belonged to Lee, Rutuja still a little cautious. Neither player’s service was ironclad in the second, both trading two breaks.
From 4-4, the local girl held serve and in the subsequent game went set-point up. She was denied only by the tape as Lee clung on. If Rutuja had failed to capitalise on her opportunity there, she made no mistake in the tie-break.
Seemingly emboldened by this success, she emerged more adventurous in the final set. Lee — 300 places better than her adversary in the rankings — was outhit, outmanoeuvred, and left gasping as Rutuja raced to a 3-0 lead.
It looked simple from here, but Lee refused to lie down. She broke back twice, and clawed her way back to parity at 4-4.
The pendulum appeared to have swung again but buoyed by a tiny yet vociferous crowd, Rutuja struck back, obtaining the decisive break in the ninth game when Lee struck a forehand long. Rutuja then simply served the match out, almost as if it was routine.
Earlier in the day, another Indian wild-card Prarthana Thombare came close to a win before losing 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 to China’s Chang Liu. The 18-year-old stunned her fancied opponent by taking the opening set in convincing fashion.
Despite a pasting in the second, when her serve let her down badly (a matter that would continue to disappoint), Prarthana looked in with a chance in the final set. Liu’s composure, however, carried her home.
Meanwhile, fourth seed Donna Vekic steamrollered V. Wongteanchai of Thailand to storm into the second round. The 16-year-old Croat dropped only a single game on her way to a 6-0, 6-1 victory, achieved in just over 50 minutes.
The results (first round): Singles: Chang Liu (Chn) bt Prarthana Thombare (Ind) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4; L. Kumkhum (Tha) bt Wing-Yau Chan (HKG) 6-4, 6-4; Elina Svitolina (Ukr) bt Andreja Klepac (Slo) 6-3, 6-2; Donna Vekic (Cro) bt V. Wongteanchai (Tha) 6-0, 6-1; Yi-Miao Zhou (Chn) bt Yi-Fan Xu (Chn) 6-0, 6-1; N. Lertcheewakarn (Tha) bt Julia Glushko (Isr) 6-3, 7-5; Rutuja Bhosale (Ind) bt So-Ra Lee (Kor) 3-6, 7-6, 6-4.
Doubles: Prerna Bhambri & Rishika Sunkara (Ind) bt Arantxa Andrady & Shivika Burman (Ind) 6-4, 6-0.