Ankita storms into quarters

When Ankita Raina, partnering Prartharna Thombare, lost in the doubles quarterfinals while leading 4-0 in the first set, she was asked by her Fed Cup team-mate on what were they doing wrong. The question forced India No 1 women’s player to do some serious soul searching. It didn’t take long to find the answer.

“I felt we lacked in self-belief. For instance when we went 4-0 up in the first set, we couldn’t believe we could manage to do that against foreign players. They went on to win six games in a row to win the first set! This had happened earlier too,” Ankita said recalling their 6-4, 5-7, 10-8 defeat to the third-seeded pair of Nicha Lertpitaksinchai and Peangtarn Plipuech of Thailand in the ONGC-GAIL Delhi Open on Wednesday evening. 

Armed with this realisation, Ankita took court against 2010 Junior Wimbledon Champion Noppawan Lertcheewakarn of Thailand on Thursday. Despite facing an early break, Ankita roared back to play one of her finest matches in recent times to beat fifth-seeded Lertcheewakarn 6-3, 6-1 and enter the singles quarterfinals.

To add to her advantage, her match was scheduled on court one, a surface quicker that the centre court, and Ankita delighted everyone with her fine stroke-making. She kept the stout Thai on the run, cut down on her own errors, and chased down every  ball. Ankita broke back in the sixth game, when the Thai dumped her double-fisted forehand to the net, and then reeled off three games on trot to wrap up the first set in 34 minutes.

She unravelled a 4-1 lead in the second following a series of backhand errors from Lertcheewakarn, who by now was simply going through the motions. Ankita let out a victory cry when she broke the Thai for the third time in the match, a backhand return sailing long.

Ankita now is the only Indian remaining in the singles. Her compatriots Natasha Palha went down to seventh-seeded Ilone Kremin of Belarus 6-3, 6-4 while Sharmada Balu lost 6-7 (18-20), 6-7 (4-7) after putting up a brave fight against Thai Varatchaya Wongteanchai in a record slugfest.
In the men’s singles, top seed Aleksandr Nedovyesov of Kazakhstan survived by the skin of teeth against Japan’s Yuichi Sugita. Nedovyesov closed the match out 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3-7) with solid serving and rasping groundstrokes.
DH News Service
Results (pre-quarterfinals): Men’s singles: Aleksandr Nedovyesov (Kaz) bt Yuichi Sugita (Jpn) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3); Lucas Pouille (Fra) bt Thomas Fabbiano (Ita) 6-4, 6-4; Radu Albot (Mda) bt Blaz Rola (Slo) 6-4, 5-7, 6-4; Evgeny Donskoy (Rus) bt Matthias Bachinger (Ger) 7-5, 6-1.
Women’s singles: Sema Erika (Jpn) bt Veronika Kapshay (Ukr) 7-5, 6-7 (4-7), 6-0, 8-Qiang Wang (Chn) bt Deniz Khazaniuk (Isr) 6-2, 6-0; 4-Yurika Sema (Jpn) bt Rika Fujiwara (Jpn) 6-3, 0-1 (retd); 7-Ilona Kremen (Blr) bt Natasha Palha 6-3, 6-4, Ankita Raina (Ind) bt 5-Noppawan Lertcheewakarn (Thai) 6-3, 6-1; 3-Yuliya Beygelzimer (Ukr) bt Junri Namigata (Jpn) 6-3, 6-3; Varatchaya Wongteanchai (Tha) bt Sharrmadaa Balu 7-6 (20), 7-6 (4); 2-Olga Savchuk (Ukr) bt Peangtarn Plipuech (Tha) 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.

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