K.C. Vijaya Kumar
Sunitha Rao loses in the final qualifying round
Bangalore: In the middle of the first set with a disaster-siren ringing in her ears, Austrian Sybille Bammer lobbed the ball up for serve, watched it wobble a bit, caught it mid-air and nodded her head in dismay.
It was an omen she dreaded, especially after having lost in the first round at the same venue two years ago. Eventually, tiding over a first-set loss, the left-handed Sybille, the sixth seed and with a WTA ranking of 20, defeated her unseeded Japanese opponent Akiko Morigami 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the Bangalore Open WTA Tier II tournament at the KSLTA courts here on Monday. The contest lasted 129 minutes.
Bammer made two double faults in her opening service game to lose her serve. Morigami, a tenacious player with good retrieving skills, held her serve and broke Bammer again to race to a 3-0 lead.
Though Bammer broke back in the sixth game, Morigami was in command, firing her first serves deep and controlling the tempo of the rallies. To compound matters, Bammer was erratic with her forehand shots.
Bammer got into her groove in the second set. After trading breaks to make it 3-3, the Austrian won the next three games to push the match into the decider. During this set, Bammer’s first serve percentage improved and she finished the set in style with a deep serve followed by a cross-court winner. In the final set, Bammer fired on all cylinders and was soon leading 4-1 even as Morigami struggled at the net. But the Japanese player, with a WTA ranking of 50, proved to be a tough opponent. She won three successive games in a row, the pick of her shots being a backhand down-the-line winner.
The set was tantalisingly poised at 5-5 before Bammer broke back in the 11th game which saw five deuces. She went on to pocket the set and match in the next game.
“I hung in and kept the ball in play,” Bammer said. “I knew it would be tough, Morigami is a good player.”
About her inconsistent play, Bammer said: “The altitude factor was tough to cope with, as I came here just two days ago. There was variable bounce and I had to adjust.” India’s Sunitha Rao failed in the final qualifying round, losing 2-6, 1-6 to Tiantian Sun of China.
The results: First round: Singles: Sybille Bammer (Aut) bt Akiko Morigami (Jpn) 2-6, 6-3, 7-5; Akiko Nakamura (Jpn) bt Tamarine Tanasugarn (Tha) 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-2.
Doubles: Shuai Peng & Tiantian Sun (Chn) bt Vesna Manasieva & Vesna Zvonareva (Rus) 6-3, 6-4; Ayumi Morita & Junri Namigata (Jpn) bt Ankita Bhambri & Sanaa Bhambri (Ind) 4-6, 6-4, 10-4; Yung-Jan Chan & Chia Jung Chuang (Tpe) bt Emmanuelle Gagliardi & Patty Schnyder (Sui) 6-3, 5-7, 10-6.
Qualifiers (final round): Tiantian Sun (Chn) bt Sunitha Rao (Ind) 6-2, 6-1; Angelika Bachmann (Ger) bt Mathilde Johansson (Fra) 6-3, 7-5; Agnes Szatmari (Rou) bt Melanie South (GBr) 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(6); Monica Niculescu (Rou) bt Anne Keothavong (GBr) 6-2, 6-0.