Karman Kaur’s maiden title triggers confidence

The 20-year-old Karman, all set to get her best rank next week, will be aiming to break into the top-150 before the year runs out.

The title has been long in coming, but Karman Kaur has been improving with every outing. (File Photo)   -  SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

From reaching two semifinals back to back, one as a qualifier, in only her first three tournaments in the ITF pro circuit in July 2014, to winning her maiden singles title in the $25,000 ITF women’s tournament in Hong Kong on Saturday, Karman Kaur Thandi has come a long way, even though her wiry frame has not gained much muscle.

“It feels great to win this title. I am very happy to win my first pro title,” said Karman, who is back home in Delhi for a short break, before she gets back to the circuit in China and gets ready for the Asian Games in Jakarta. The 20-year-old Karman, all set to get her best rank next week, will be aiming to break into the top-150 before the year runs out.

Karman did not drop a set and more importantly conceded only three games each to her opponents, including the top seed Jia-Jing Lu of China, in her last three matches, which give a hint of her domination. In fact, she dropped only 20 games in all in five rounds. “I kept my intensity on every point and am stepping it up, both mentally and game wise,” observed Karman.

“It is a stepping stone. It is her fifth final. Let us not get carried away as it is a $25K win. Her goal is to break the top-100 in 24 months and play Wimbledon qualifiers next year this time. Winning matches boosts confidence and that is the key,” said multiple Grand Slam champion Mahesh Bhupathi, who has been supporting Karman with her travel, training and competition for quite some time.

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The title has been long in coming, but Karman has been improving with every outing. Her first final was in the $10,000 event in Indore and she had played a three-setter against Anastasiya Vasylyeva of Ukraine in December 2015. Karman had lost two finals at the $25,000 level last year, including one in Pune, when she could showcase at least her explosive game.

“Every time, I step on the court is to win! But, once you are on the court, you can’t think of the result, because you have no control over it. The matches, I played before in the finals, were tight matches and they could have gone either way. Lost those matches, but learnt from them and am trying to improve each day,” said Karman.

“The goal is to get to 150 this year. Honestly, I am not a believer in qualifying. The goal is to follow the process for main draws. So, getting into the US Open qualifying is not a goal for me at least,” said Mahesh, when queried about the distinct possibility of Karman pushing her rank a little more and getting into that league.

“Representing the country is always the best thing,” Karman countered, pointing out that the clash of dates of the Asian Games with the US would mean no Grand Slam aspirations for her at the moment.