Sathwika Sama displayed her grit, as she survived three matchpoints to beat Eliza Askarova of Kyrgyzstan 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4), to book a quarterfinal berth for India in the Asia Oceania World Junior under-14 girls’ tennis tournament here on Tuesday.
In a battle that lasted two hours and 23 minutes, Sathwika was willing to accept anything except defeat. She sacrificed her attacking game and surrendered to a defensive pattern that saw her cover the width of the court laboriously throughout the contest.
Sathwika won the hearts of everyone, including a number of national hockey players, staying at the DLTA, who had a look at the tennis under a hot sun, before having lunch.
After a good start, Sathwika looked to have lost her confidence, after being two breaks down at 0-3 in the second set, on losing the first. With captain Ankita Bhambri encouraging her, Sathwika fought hard to turn the tide in her favour against an opponent who had limitations but never relented from unleashing her shots.
After being down 2-5 in the decider, the Indian then saved three match-points on her serve in the 12th game to force the tie-break. At 4-3, Eliza, who was quiet throughout the contest, not showing any trace of emotion, committed a double-fault. Sathwika jumped ahead with a backhand down the line winner, a rare gem at that stage. Two errors from Eliza saw Sathwika celebrate an unforgettable victory.
Earlier, Shivani Ingle was systematic in outclassing Ermeka Nurgazieva as the host got off to a robust start. India will clash with third-seeded Japan to decide the group topper.
The results (league):
Group A: Australia bt Turkmenistan 3-0; Kazakhstan bt Uzbekistan 2-1.
Group B: Chinese Taipei bt Singapore 3-0; New Zealand bt Korea 2-1.
Group C: India bt Kyrgyzstan 3-0 (Shivani Ingle bt Ermeka Nurgazieva 6-1, 6-2; Sathwika Sama bt Eliza Askarova 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4); Aarja Chakraborty & Sathwika Sama bt Ansari Abildaeva & Ermeka Nurgazieva 6-1, 6-2).
Japan bt Indonesia 3-0 (Auri Nagata bt Faiza Salsaliba Nurhidayati 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-2; Ayumi Miyamoto bt Shevita Aulana 7-6(4), 6-3; Yuki Ando & Auri Nagata bt Fitriani Sabatini & Faiza Salsaliba Nurhidayati 6-4, 6-1).
Group D: China bt Hong Kong 3-0; Thailand bt Philippines 3-0.