Kamesh Srinivasan

NEW DELHI: Ankita Bhambri raced past National hardcourt champion Isha Lakhani 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals of the ITF women's tennis tournament at the DLTA Complex here on Friday.

Though she dropped serve thrice, there was no real threat for the second-seeded Ankita as she played with conviction and increasingly well as the match progressed.

While Ankita kept up a steady game, Isha tried to wrest the initiative with an attacking style of play but lacked the rhythm to capitalise on her game plan. A string of six doublefaults including three on the trot in one of the early games did not help the confidence of Isha. Though she has not been playing as well as she can, Ankita has not dropped a set so far in the tournament.

Ankita takes on Ksenia Palkina of Kyrgyzstan who has been equally impressive in not dropping a set on way to the final.

In fact, Palkina has been improving with every outing ever since she beat the top-seeded Rushmi Chakravarthi in the first round. She serving and stroked well against Czarina Mae Arevalo to be home in straight sets in the other semifinals.

Walk-over

The doubles final was not played as the top-seeded Rushmi Chakravarthi and Ankita Bhambri had to give a walk-over as the former was advised rest following injuries suffered while she tripped on court during her doubles semifinals the previous day. With the medical advise of at least a week's rest, Rushmi was forced to withdraw from the next tournament in Muzaffar Nagar as well.

The champion pair of Palkina and Nicole Clerico of Italy shared a prize purse of $637 and added six WTA points each to their collection. Ankita and Rushmi shared $343 and pocketed four WTA points each.

The results: Singles (semifinals): Ksenia Palkina (Kgz) bt Czarina Mae Arevalo (Phi) 6-3, 6-3; Ankita Bhambri bt Isha Lakhani 6-2, 6-4.

Doubles (final): Nicole Clerico (Ita) and Ksenia Palkina (Kgz) w.o. Ankita Bhambri and Rushmi Chakravarthi.

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