Mumbai: Ankita Raina used her experience to knock out Veronika Kudermetova with a 7-6 (2), 6-3 win and become the only Indian singles player to advance in the L&T Mumbai Open WTA 125K Series at the Cricket Club of India courts here on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old seized the deciding moments to prevail over her Russian opponent who showed glimpses of brilliance but committed too many errors at crucial junctures.
Ankita will now meet world no. 244, Peangtarn Plipuech in the round of 16 after the Thai knocked out sixth seed Lizette Cabrera of Australia 7-6, 6-2 on the other court.
Ankita kept the Indian challenge on along with the pair of Karman Kaur Thandi and Pranjala Yadlapalli in the doubles going into Thursday.
Ankita had a relatively better singles draw than the other three Indian wild card holders on Sunday as she had small gap on her opponent in the rankings. But the scenario changed on Monday when the WTA released new its rankings and Ankita dropped by 12 places to 293 and Veronika rose 22 places to 233. Ankita also had her lost no. 1 position in India to Karman Kaur Thandi.
“It always good to have some Indian girls coming up the rankings. It means I may not be alone when I am travelling to play tournaments,” she said after the match.
However, the slip in rankings didn’t affect her game as the Ahmedabad girl was dominant from the start against her tall and powerful opponent. She didn’t rush things like her doubles partner Rutuja Bhosale did on Tuesday and waited for her chances which came in plenty.
Ankita took a 5-1 lead in the first set before Veronika levelled at 5-5 and then 6-6 to force tie-breaker. However, too many errors from the Russian meant Ankita had it easy in the tie-breaker.
“After getting a solid start, I had slowed down mid-way through the first set, but eventually I found my stride back again,” said Ankita who was very expressive during her game and kept on talking to herself.
In the second set Ankita went ahead early on the fourth break point. She held her serve and broke Veronika again to romp to 4-1 lead.
But the Russian shot back with dominant display in sixth game to break the Indian and later held serve to make it 3-4.
Ankita had a word with Pune based coach Hemant Bendre. “I tried to adapt to the breeze by trying different things. My coach had advised me to keep up my rhythm and to be patient and wait for my opportunity,” she said. She later took both games to end the engrossing match after 95 minutes.
Top seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus advanced after 7-5, 6-1 first round win over unseeded Priscilla Hon of Australia. After holding on to their serves Sabalenka who once saved a break point, finally broke at 5-5 to wrap up first set 7-5. She got into her stride and wrapped the second set in a hurry.