Poojashree, Sanaa keep flag flying

ITF tournament

 
 Sanaa Bhambri sets herself up for a forehand drive on Thursday. DH photoFor the second successive day, Poojashree was the beneficiary as Treta Bhattacharyya retired, complaining of fever and back spasm. The Bangalorean had won the first set 6-0 when Treta called for the trainer. After ten minutes of treatment, Treta conceded the match.

Poojashree, who had gained from Aishwarya Agrawal’s withdrawal with an allergy during their pre-quarterfinal tie on Wednesday, will take on Israel’s Keren Shlomo, the fourth seed, in Friday’s semifinal. Keren inflicted a 6-2, 6-4 defeat on Chun-Yan He of China.

By contrast, fifth seed Sanaa had to battle her way into the last four. The 21-year-old upset third-seeded Isha Lakhani 6-2, 7-5 to set up a meeting with Slovenian seventh seed Dalila Jakupovic, a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 winner over unseeded Elodie Rogge-Dietrich of France.

Sanaa got off to a flying start, breaking her opponent in the first game with a forehand winner that whistled past Isha. The Delhiite built on that advantage, breaking Isha again in the third game and holding serve to take a 4-0 lead. Games then went with serve before Sanaa clinched the set when Isha placed a backhand volley wide.

With both left-handers going for their shots, the second set saw a sparkling display of tennis. Sanaa unleashed an on-the-run forehand winner from an acute angle to bag the first game. Then, in a totally uncharacteristic manner, Isha committed two double-faults and hit a forehand long to trail 0-2.

The drop of her serve seemed to wake Isha from her slumber as the 24-year-old drove a double-handed backhand passing shot followed by a drop shot. The match hotted up when the Delhiite converted a break-point and then held the serve with a smash off an attempted lob by Sanaa.

Isha dropped her serve again in the sixth game, dumping an easy volley into the net. However, she immediately got back into the encounter by breaking her opponent in the very next game. Two aces and a reflex return helped the third seed to come to level terms at 4-all.

At 4-5, with Isha serving to stay in the match, Sanaa held one match point before the former pulled herself out of trouble with deep serves. Saana netted a forehand and two backhand returns landed over the baseline as Isha stayed in touch. But at 5-6 and again serving to keep her campaign afloat, pressure got the better of Isha as Sanaa finally converted her fourth match point to enter the semis.

Poojashree and He of China will meet Moe Kawatoko of Japan and Kumari Shweta Solanki in the doubles final on Friday.

Results (Indians unless mentioned, prefix number denotes seeding):
Singles (quarterfinals): 5-Sanaa Bhambri bt 3-Isha Lakhani 6-2, 7-5; 1-Poojashree Venkatesha bt Treta Bhattacharyya 6-0 (Treta retired); 4-Keren Shlomo (Isr) bt 8-Chun-Yan He (Chn) 6-2, 6-4; 7-Dalila Jakupovic (Slo) bt Elodie Rogge-Dietrich (Fra) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Doubles (semifinals): Moe Kawatoko (Jpn)/ Kumari Shweta Solanki bt Sanaa Bhambri/ Rushmi Chakravarthi 5-7, 6-2, 10-8; Isha Lakhani/ Poojashree Venkatesha bt Chun Yan He (Chn)/ Dalila Jakupovic (Slo) 5-7, 6-2, 10-8.

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