Natasha Palha wins dramatic entry into second round

Natasha Palha won five points on the trot when she faced three matchpoints for a thrilling 7-5, 2-6, 7-6(6) victory over Watsachol Sawasdee of Thailand in the first round of the $15,000 ITF women’s tennis tournament in Thailand.

Interestingly, Natasha’s opponent served more aces, converted more break points and won more points in all, albeit by the smallest margin, and yet lost the match.   -  ARUN KULKARNI

Natasha Palha won five points on the trot when she faced three matchpoints for a thrilling 7-5, 2-6, 7-6(6) victory over Watsachol Sawasdee of Thailand in the first round of the $15,000 ITF women’s tennis tournament in Thailand on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old Natasha, who had won a match against a Chinese opponent in 2014 in four hours and 32 minutes, could have won the match a lot earlier against Sawasdee but for losing her grip at 5-2 in the decider.

However, it was creditable that Natasha bounced back from being 2-5 down in the first set to clinch it 7-5. In the second, she lost five games in a row from 2-1. In a dramatic decider, Natasha, who served three aces and converted five of 11 break points, came good when it
counted.

Interestingly, Natasha’s opponent served more aces, converted more break points and won more points in all, albeit by the smallest margin, and yet lost the match. For her perseverance, Natasha was rewarded with a second round against top seed Julia Glushko of Israel.

The bright Zeel Desai, coming full time into the professional circuit, after the US Open juniors, had a tough outing against fourth seed Yue Yuan of China and lost the battle after winning the first set in the tie-break.

Rutuja Bhosale was the other Indian to pull through into the second round, past eighth seed Ao Gai of China in three sets.

In the doubles, Rutuja and Pranjala Yadlapalli were beaten 3-6, 7-6(4), 10-4 by the top seeds Jia-Qi Kang of China and Nudnida Luangnam of Thailand in the pre-quarterfinals.
 

The results: $15,000 ITF women, Hua Hin, Thailand

Singles (first round): Natasha Palha bt Watsachol Sawasdee (Tha) 7-5, 2-6, 7-6(6); Yue Yuan (Chn) bt Zeel Desai 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-2; Ching-Wen Hsu (Tpe) bt Sowjanya Bavisetti 6-4, 6-0; Rutuja Bhosale bt Ao Gai (Chn) 5-7, 6-0, 6-4.

Doubles (pre-quarterfinals): Jia-Qi Kang (Chn) & Nudnida Luangnam (Tha) bt Rutuja Bhosale & Pranjala Yadlapalli 3-6, 7-6(4), 10-4.

$15,000 ITF women, Antalya, Turkey

Quallifying singles (second and final round): Vlada Svarkovskaya (Rus) bt Shivani Manchanda 6-1, 6-2.