WTA Mumbai Open: Sabalenka, Sharipova call the shots

The 23-year-old Sharipova, ranked a modest 186, got increasingly better as the match progressed against the former world No. 12 Yanina Wickmayer who had made the US Open semifinals in 2010.

Sabina Sharipova shocked third seed Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 to set the tone for the evening in the quarterfinals of the $125,000 WTA Mumbai Open at the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai on Friday.   -  SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

 

Sabina Sharipova shocked third seed Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 to set the tone for the evening in the quarterfinals of the $125,000 WTA Mumbai Open at the Cricket Club of India here on Friday.

After the sparse gathering had watched Dalila Jakupovic outplayed qualifier Alize Lim of France in the first match of the day, it was a refreshing return to a high quality game between an athletic player and a powerful opponent.

Alize was literally limping through the match, as she had a big tape running on to her knee on the left leg. Thus, it was no surprise that Jakupovic, who was far too sharp and clever did not let the French girl back into the match after getting off to a brisk start.

Much in contrast, the 23-year-old Sabina, ranked a modest 186, got increasingly better as the match progressed against the former world

No. 12 Yanina Wickmayer who had made the US Open semifinals in 2010.

While the 28-year-old Yanina, ranked 115 at the moment, had reached the round of 16 of the Australian Open in 2010 and 2015, as a consistent regular in the Grand Slams, Sabina had not entered a Grand Slam so far.

WTA Mumbai Open: Sabalenka, Ankita stand out

Sabina moved well and stroked with intensity against an opponent who had a big serve, and fired three aces. In fact, Sabina had as many as nine double faults in the match that lasted nearly two hours. Yet, the Uzbek’s overall game was so solid that she overcame all the hurdles and the odds, for a memorable victory, in her maiden meeting against the Belgian.

Dalila had a memorable day as she made the doubles final in partnership with Irina Khromacheva of Russia. The duo established itself as the second seeds against the fourth-seeded Juia Glushko and Priscilla Hon with a straight set victory.

Meanwhile, the wiry Naomi Broady, with her big serves, sharp strokes, silken athleticism and a delightfully efficient single-handed backhand, promised a lot as she jumped to a 3-1 start against top seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

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However, the 27-year-old British girl was unable to ride on her tall frame as she dropped serve twice on double faults to gift back the initiative to the powerful Sabalenka who was ripping the returns.

The 19-year-old Sabalenka, a potential future star with her energetic all-round game, gained a foothold over the proceedings with her power play and snuffed the challenge from the wiry Briton, who was ranked a career-best 76 last season.

In the last quarterfinal of the day, that went late into the night under the floodlights, Ankita Raina put the skates under her feet for a robust performance against Amandine Hesse of France. The 24-year-old
Ankita ranked 293, played her heart out, and fought for every point, before being beaten 6-3, 7-6(4) in a gripping contest that spanned an hour and 48 minutes.

Results:

Singles (quarterfinals): Aryna Sabalenka (Blr) bt Naomi Broady (GBR) 6-4, 6-2; Sabina Sharipova (Uzb) bt Yanina Wickmayer (Bel) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2; Dalila Jakupovic (Slo) bt Alize LIm (Fra) 6-3, 6-1; Amandine Hesse (Fra) bt Ankita Raina 6-3, 7-6(4).

Doubles (semifinal): Dalila Jakupovic (Slo) & Irina Khromacheva (Rus) bt Julia Glushko (Isr) & Priscilla Hon (Aus) 6-3, 6-2.