WTA Mumbai Open: Sabalenka, Ankita stand out

In the most vibrant match of the day, top seed Aryna Sabalenka was forced to bring out her best game against Jia-Jing Lu of China, in a battle of wits that lasted more than two hours and 30 minutes.

Top seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus pulled through a tough second round against Jia-Jing Lu of China in the $125,000 WTA Mumbai Open on Thursday.   -  KAMESH SRINIVASAN

Ankita Raina came up with a sterling performance yet again to outclass the crafty Peangtarn Plipuech of Thailand 6-2, 6-2 in the pre-quarterfinals of the L&T $125,000 WTA Mumbai Open at the Cricket Club of India courts here on Thursday.

Staying calm and playing an intense game, the 24-year-old Ankita recovered from an early break of serve for a resounding fare. The game plan was effective and Ankita was prepared, with suitable guidance from her coach Hemant Bendrey, to not let the Thai trouble her much.

Read: Ankita Raina makes the second round in Mumbai WTA Open

In fact, Ankita hit a different level after droping serve in the third game, and did not take her foot from the accelerator till she reached 51 in the second set. She did drop serve in the seventh game, but closed out the match in just about an hour, converting six of nine breakpoints.

Ankita was athletic, patient with her strokes and knowing the strength of her opponent to run from side, used the drops with great effect.

And whenever the Thai tried to check her mobility with drops, Ankita was swift to him them for winners. On this day, after the shaky start, Ankita would not put a foot wrong.

In the quarterfinals, Ankita will play Amandine Hesse of France who had beaten the fourth seed Arina Rodionova in the first round. The French girl had to endure a three-setter against qualifier Deniz Khazaniuk of Israel.

WTA Mumbai Open: Thandi-Yadlapalli through to quarters

In the most vibrant match of the day, top seed Aryna Sabalenka was forced to bring out her best game against Jia-Jing Lu of China, in a battle of wits that lasted more than two hours and 30 minutes. The tall and strongly-built Belarussian recovered from losing the first set in the tie-break and saved a matchpoint in the tenth game of the decider for a spectacular victory in the tie-break, in which the power of her serve prevailed in the end.

It was a treat for the sparse gathering in pleasant weather conditions under the floodlights to see high quality game, in which the pace generated by the two players consistently through the match did project women’s tennis in better light.

While Sabalenka made all the noise literally and figuratively, with her grunts and explosive strokes, the Chinese was quite silent but efficient with her energetic game. To her credit, Sabalenka channelised everything in her favour to play an intense all-round game, that took everyone’s breath away many a time during the long drawn encounter.

It should be equally interesting, when Sabalenka challenges the tall Naomi Broady of Britain who outlplayed Junri Namigata of Japan for the loss of four games.

Results:

Singles (pre-quarterfinals): Aryna Sabalenka (Blr) bt Jia-Jing Lu (Chn) 6-7(5), 6-2, 7-6(4); Naomi Broady (GBR) bt Junri Namigata (Jpn) 6-2, 6-2; Amandine Hesse (Fra) bt Deniz Khazaniuk (Isr) 6-3, 4-6, 6-1; Ankita Raina bt Peangtarn Plipuech (Tha) 6-2, 6-2.

Doubles (quarterfinals): Victoria Rodriguez (Mex) & Bibiane Schoofs (Ned) bt Eva Wacanno (Ned) & Yanina Wickmayer (Bel) 6-4, 7-6(4).

Doubles (pre- quarterfinals) : Irina Khromacheva (Rus) & Dalila Jakupovuc (Slo) bt Pranjala Yadlapalli & Karman Kaur Thandi 6-4, 6-2.