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Sunday, Sep 15, 2019

Aggressive approach helps Thandi to overcome Raina to enter finals of Pune ITF open

Karman Kaur Thandi who ranks 219 in world WTA defeats local girl Ankita Raina 2­6, 6­2, 6­4 in 2 hours 16 minutes to enter finals of Pune Open ITF women’s championship

pune Updated: Dec 01, 2018 15:02 IST
Jigar hindocha
Jigar hindocha
Hindustan Times, Pune
Karman Kaur Thandi in action during the BVG Pune open ITF Women’s championships at Shiv Chhatrapati sports complex Balewadi, on Friday.
Karman Kaur Thandi in action during the BVG Pune open ITF Women’s championships at Shiv Chhatrapati sports complex Balewadi, on Friday.(HT/PHOTO)

When Ankita Raina and Karman Kaur Thandi, the doubles partners and defending champions of the WTA Taipei Open doubles title in November 18, squared off opposite each other during the semi-finals of BVG Pune Open ITF $25k ITF women’s championship in the city, it was a match worth watching.

Thandi not only won the game with her aggressive play, but also won hearts at Shiv Chhatrapati sports complex on Friday.

“I fought for every point and didn’t give up till the end,” said an exhausted and ecstatic Thandi after beating the opponent 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory in 2 hours 16 minutes to enter the final. The Delhi girl who ranks 219 in world women’s tennis association will face world no 86 Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia in the summit clash. Zidansek defeated Eva Guerrero Alvarez of Spain 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 in the second semi-final.

City girl Raina, who had the home ground advantage and crowd support, started on a high note, winning the first set 6-2 in 39 minutes by breaking Thandi’s serve in third and fifth game.

“I had my chances, but after the first set my movements were not sharp on the court which slowed down a match. Karman is a very good player so in order to beat her I should have taken the chances I missed,” said Raina, who went down 2-6 in the second set.

In the second set, Thandi displayed an attacking approach and took a 4-1 lead breaking Raina in the fourth game. “I had my chances in the first set as well where I was 40-15 up, 40-30 up, but I could not win. Ankita played really well,” Thandi said.

Both the players put up their best game, but Thandi prevailed with her effective returns and attacking game. After 4-all, Thandi took the ninth game 40-love to made it 5-4 and then broke Raina’s serve in 10th game to win the set 6-4.“It was a good game. I need to improve my first serve as I am starting on a slow note,” said Thandi.

Meanwhile, later in the day, Thandi and Raina also known as India’s next tennis powerhouse, came out with their ace game to clinch the doubles title in the women’s championship. The Indian pair beat Aleksandrina Naydenova of Bulgaria and Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 11-9 in one hour and 36 minutes.

The in-form Indian duo started the match with a bang winning the first set 6-2 in 27 minutes. In the second set, opponents Naydenova and Zidansek troubled Raina and Thandi with their attacking games. Top-seeded Raina and Thandi looked clueless on a few occasions as Naydenova and Zidansek wrapped up the second set 6-7 (5-7) in tiebreaker. In the super tiebreaker, Indians were trailing 3-1 before the duo raised their game and closed the match winning it 11-9.

The Indian duo will now be seen in action at ITF $25,000 women’s championship starting from December 3 in Solapur.

“I am enjoying playing at home. Our (Karman and Raina) communication level is excellent. It is always good playing with her,” explains Raina.

Raina’s coach, Kedar Shah, who runs Bounce tennis academy, after watching the game, said, “She did not play up to the mark in the singles. She was solid in the first set, but slowed the speed of the ball later on giving Karman the advantage and the latter capitalised it to clinch the match.”

Shah said that Raina had a fruitful year as she hardly took a break in the season. “She was in Pune when she suffered from dengue, otherwise it was a big year for her. She lost the match (singles) today, but is confident enough going ahead in her career,” Shah said.

First Published: Dec 01, 2018 15:01 IST