OTHERS

Yamini lets Liza off the hook

INDORE, MAY 8. It is going to take a lot to get the Bridgestone ITF Women's $20,000 circuit first leg to really start cooking, but as play got underway at the Yeshwant Club, there was at least a slow simmer in evidence.

It came in the form of a fine comeback win from India under-18 No. 3 Liza Pereira, as none of the seeded players were seen in action on Monday. Liza played out a 90-minute three- setter against the talented T. Yamini of Tamil Nadu 3-6, 6-0, 6- 2. She was fortunate to be allowed back into the match by the free- stroking Yamini, whose game while being attractive, was far too inconsistent to threaten Liza after a positive start.

Liza managed to hold serve only once in the 3-6 opening set, as the Chennai player didn't look that worse after her long break from the game due to exams. Liza was in trouble with her serves, sending down double faults in almost every service game, and that too at crucial junctures. But the loss of the opening set helped the Mumbai girl snap back to attention and she was able to get a grip on her composure and shotmaking.

Her 16-year-old opponent went the other way, taking a step off the pedal and then finding herself coming to a complete stop. After clinching the first set, she surprisingly lost nine games in a row. Liza won the second set 6-0 and was up two breaks at 3- 0 in the decider in a trice. Yamini broke serve in the fourth, but it was far too late. She couldn't hold her serve in the fifth and fought off four match points in the long seventh game, which went to eight deuces.

At 5-2 up, Liza had a few scary moments when serving for the match, producing two double faults and saving a single break point. Yamini is known for her ability to come back from hopeless positions, but this was not one of those days. Liza held on to win the match 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 and set up a meeting with sixth-seed Nikita Bharadwaj on Wednesday.

Deepa Chakraborty of Ahmedabad handed local player Nishta Yadav a 6-0, 6-0 win to set up a second round encounter against National grass court champion and No. 4 seed Radhika Tulpule on Tuesday. There was a facile 6-0, 6-3 win for Karishma Patel over Kalpita Raje and the draw now gives the winner an even chance against seventh-seeded Shalini Thakur in the second round.

Top seed Archana Venkataraman will play Marutha Devi in the second round. Marutha received a walkover from Bangalore's Tara Kanbargimath.

The tournament opened with Rati Kumar of Nagpur playing Aparna Singh, who hails from Gwalior and was a home favourite of sorts. Rati Kumar, a tall and strong player, failed to capitalise on her chances as she led 4-2 on a single break. Aparna, however, was able to climb back into the match, breaking back and turning around a 2-5 deficit in the tie-break to take the first set. She lost the second set, but was unstoppable in the decider winning 7-6 (7-5), 2-6, 6-2.

The organisers have scheduled most of the singles matches for the afternoon session when the weather is kinder and the Yeshwant Club is a little more crowded with members. The motive to play the matches in front of a packed gathering may be a worthy one, but today this led to a situation when even a seven-match schedule could not be completed due to fading light.

Nandini Perumal of Hyderabad and Nona Wagh from Mumbai were slugging it out in their first round encounter when the match had to be stopped at 7-6 (7-4), 1-3 in favour of Wagh. The strapping Mumbai girl had fought back from a 2-5 deficit in the first set to push the set into a tie-breaker, which she won at 7- 4. There was a critical double fault from Nandini when she trailed 3-4, but she was left stranded from 4-5 down, as Nona whipped two stunning backhand passes to take the set.

The Hyderabad teenager then took the upper hand in the second set as she broke Nona in the third game and held for 3-1 before play was halted. The two girls will begin their match in the afternoon session on Tuesday.

The results:

Singles (first round): Liza Pereira bt T. Yamini 3-6, 6-0, 6-2; Karishma Patel bt Kalpita Raje 6-0, 6-3; Deepa Chakraborty bt Nishta Yadav 6-0, 6-0; Aparna Singh bt Rati Kumar 7-6 (7-5), 2-6, 6-2; Sricharanya Thaigarajan bt Mansi Majeji 6-2, 6-2; Marutha Devi w/o Tara Kanbargimath; Nona wagh leads Nandini Perumal 7-6 (7-4), 1-3 (match stopped due to bad light).