Sarah-Rebecca Sekulic of Germany knocked out the second seed and last year’s champion Punnin Kovapitukted of Thailand 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in the first round of the $15,000 ITF women’s tennis tournament at the Tennis Project, Baliawas, on Wednesday.
In a fierce baseline battle, the 30-year-old Sarah had the better reach and punch to counter the foot speed of the gutsy Punnin. While Sarah converted five of eight break points, the 20-year-old Punnin fell short, winning four of six break points. It was Punnin who won more points, 85 to 83, but Sarah won the points that mattered.
In the pre-quarterfinals, Sarah will face qualifier Julia Lovqvist of Sweden.
Champion of the last tournament, Zeel Desai warmed up with a 6-0, 6-2 victory over qualifier Liu Min of China. She will play another qualifier Pooja Ingale in the second round.
Sandeepti Singh Rao, the star of the last tournament in Jhajjar, who qualified and reached the final, set up a repeat clash with fifth seed Tamara Curovic of Serbia in the second round.
Akanksha Nitture went down fighting in three sets to Fanny Ostlund of Sweden.
Shrivalli Bhamidipaty beat qualifier Sai Samhitha to set up a second round against third seed Saki Imamura of Japan.