Title for Bratchikova and Kalashnikova duo
Fresh-faced Elina Svitolina delivered an invigorating surprise at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex on Saturday night, whacking Andrea Petkovic out of the Royal Indian Open.
Riding on the back of a splendidly powerful serve, the 18-year-old stunned her considerably better-accomplished opponent in straight sets, winning 6-2, 7-5 to advance to the final.
Svitolina may not have made much of a splash in the tournament leading up to this point — the Ukrainian only entered the semis after Lusika Kumkhum, a set ahead, pulled out of their quarterfinal — but she is not an unknown. She was the French Open girls’ champion in 2010, and earlier this year finished runner-up at Wimbledon (girls).
But to thump the 25-year-old Petkovic — world number nine a little over a year ago and quarterfinalist at three Grand Slams in 2012 before injury struck — like this was unexpected.
“I took a while for me to realise I’d won,” Svitolina said afterwards. “When I serve well, my tennis is good and I served really well today. After the French Open final, I would rank this as my best win. This match was difficult to play – Andrea was hitting the ball so hard.”
Not that anyone would have noticed in the first set. Petkovic seemed out of gear, Svitolina stealing ahead with a break in the fifth game. The Ukrainian reeled off four aces here — and 10 in the entire contest — to claim the next three games and wrap the set up in half an hour.
Svitolina broke at once in the second set, but Petkovic — hitherto under the cosh — broke back in the sixth game, before holding serve to move ahead at 4-3. The following game was going to be decisive and when Svitolina saved two break points, the German’s frustrations came gushing out.
The racket copped the bulk of the abuse, the net some, while the chair umpire found herself on the receiving end of a few unpleasant looks.
“One horrible line call made me lose my cool,” Petkovic said later. “I accept that I shouldn’t have acted that way. But full respect to Svitolina — she played really well; her serve was simply too strong.”
Svitolina, though not as dominant as earlier, chugged ahead on the 11th game, converting a hard-fought break point. She served the match out without fuss, fittingly finishing things off with a fine ace down the middle.
In Sunday’s final, Svitolina will face Kimiko Date-Krumm, who outlasted Tamarine Tanasugarn in the battle of the veterans. The Japanese won 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in an attritional contest that lasted over two and a half hours.
Meanwhile, Nina Bratchikova and Oksana Kalashnikova claimed the doubles title after defeating the pair of Julia Glushko and N. Lertcheewakarn 6-0, 4-6, 10-8 in the final.
The results: Singles: Semifinals: Kimiko Date-Krumm (Jap) bt Tamarine Tanasugarn (Tha) 6-4, 5-7, 6-4; Elina Svitolina (Ukr) bt Andrea Petkovic (Ger) 6-2, 7-5.
Doubles: Final: Nina Bratchikova (Rus) & Oksana Kalashnikova (Geo) bt Julia Glushko (Isr) & N. Lertcheewakarn 6-0, 4-6, 10-8.
Keywords: Royal Indian Open tennis tournament