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Zilch expectations pays off for Baluu

sportspaper Updated: Oct 06, 2016 06:44 IST

NEW DELHI: She was down 1-5 in the first set but kept calm. In possession of one of the best serves on the women’s circuit in the country, Sharrmadaa Baluu kept at it. She had come to the Fenesta Open national championship without expectations, as it’s barely been two months since she recovered from an ankle injury. But that didn’t daunt the former Fed Cup player on Wednesday.

Opposite her stood old foe Shweta Rana, who had beaten second seed Rishika Sunkara in the first round. While her serves found the mark, Baluu’s strong backhand down-the-line winners had Rana looking on helplessly as the 23-year-old pulled herself together to win five games in a row.

Failing to convert the much-needed game at 6-5 in her favour, Baluu even wasted two set points in the tiebreaker due to unforced errors. On the third, she capitalised on Rana’s errors to pocket the first set 7-6 (5). From there, it went Baluu’s way as she won 6-4 in the second to enter the third round at the DLTA Complex.

She trains with Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali when in Bangalore after leaving the Schuttler-Waske Academy in Germany. “It’s too expensive to do it on our own,” says Baluu, who since returning to the circuit has won four $10,000 doubles titles in Egypt.

While the Baluu-Rana encounter drew people, the best way to describe Wednesday would be to call it a day of upsets. Women’s top seed Dhruthi Venugopal was upset by Mihika Yadav after they resumed the first round tie after rain halted play Tuesday afternoon. Venugopal lost 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-7(3). Second seed Sunkara was served a first set bagel by Rana in the morning before managing to win one game in the second.

The men’s draw lost second seed and former national champion Mohit Mayur Jayaprakash, beaten by Tejas Chaukulkar 6-4, 3-6, 4-6 in the second round.

First Published: Oct 06, 2016 06:44 IST