Sharmada rallies into quarters

Bangalore girl Sharmada Balu shrugged off an indifferent start to score a 0-6, 6-2, 6-0 victory over eighth-seeded Naomi Totka of Hungary and advanced to the singles quarterfinals of the $10,000 ONGC ITF women’s tournament at the Delhi Lawn Tennis Association (DLTA) complex here on Wednesday.

Sharmada, who missed most of last year because of an ankle injury, had little going her way in the opening set as she sprayed her shots all over the court. However, she recovered her rhythm and fluency in her ground strokes to turn the tables in the second set.

Sharmada dictated the points with ease and quickly jumped to a 4-0 lead before serving out the set to even out things. Her confidence back, she simply ran through the decider with Naomi slumping to a rash of errors.

“I am really happy to pull this match off despite not playing my best. Naomi is a sharp player and she has been playing a lot on the circuit. I only have had a few tournaments under my belt since my return. It is satisfying the way I mentally approached the match,” Sharmada, 19, said.

She is next up against second-seeded Rishika Sunkara, who dispatched Sneha Padamata 6-2, 6-2.

Eetee Maheta, however, had to wage a near three-hour battle against gritty Vaniya Dangwal to eke out a 4- 6, 6-2, 6-1 victory. She now faces a re-match of her semifinal in the previous tournament here against Ankita Raina. Top-seeded Ankita took little over an hour to crush the challenge of an erratic Ching-Wen Hsu of Chinese Taipei 6-2, 6-1 and put rest to the foreign participation in the event.

Pre-quarterfinal results (prefix denotes seeding, Indians unless mentioned): 2-Rishika Sunkara bt Sneha Padamata 6-2, 6-2; Kanika Vaidya bt Nehel Sahni 6-3, 6-1; 4-Nidhi Chilumula bt Shruti Dhawan 7-5, 6-3; Sharmada Balu bt 8-Naomi Totka (Hun) 0-6, 6-2, 6-0; 6-Eetee Maheta bt Vaniya Dangwal 4-6, 6-2, 6-1; 7-Natasha Palha bt Simran Kaur Sethi 6-3, 6-0; 1-Ankita Raina bt Ching-Wen Hsu (Tpe) 6-2, 6-1; 5-Shweta Rana bt Bhuvana Kalva 6-4, 2-1 (retd).

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