All Indians advance, except Shikha
A rusty Sunitha Rao ovecame a jittery start while Isha Lakhani and Ankita Bhambri benefitted from the retirement of their opponents to advance to the second round of the USD 50,000 ITF women's tennis event here on Tuesday.
The seventh seeded Sunitha, down 1-4 in the opening set, made a remarkable recovery to pip Ksenia Palkina of Kyrgyzstan 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 27 minutes.
National champion and wildcard Isha had pocketed the first set 6-3 when her Russian opponent Vesna Manasieva decided to discontinue the match due to stomach problems.
Another wildcard Ankita Bhambri was leading 6-3 1-0 when Ivana Lisjak of Croatia opted out of her match.
Meanwhile, an errant Shikha Uberoi was outplayed 3-6 3-6 by qualifier Montinee Tangphong of Thailand in her first round match.
Sunitha, after struggling with her first serve, won five games on the trot from 1-4 down to take the first set.
She dropped her serve in the second game and won her first point only in the fourth.
Palkina held the next game to lead 4-1 and it looked like Sunitha would go down without a challenge.
But Sunitha turned the tide in her favour by winning five straight games, breaking Palkina twice.
Sunitha went on the offensive while Palkina could not finish off points into the open court even when her opponent was out of position.
The Indian player rallied well and hit some good double-handed backhands.
Palkina did not help herself making several unforced errors which only boosted Sunitha's confidence.
The Kyrgyzstan girl got broken in the first and third games of the second set to hand a 3-0 lead to her opponent.
Sunitha was broken in the next game when she hit a backhand long but did not allow Palkina to make a comeback.
The remaining games went with serve as Sunitha sealed the match.
"I am bit of a slow starter. When I was not earning points, I tried not to lose either. She was a bit shaken in confidence when I won straight games," Sunitha said after the match.
She next faces Serbian Teodora Mircic, who beat Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania 6-1 7-5.
Isha Lakahani will take on Hungarian Aniko Kapros, who defeated Latavian player Anastasija Sevastova 7-6 (5) 7-6 (4) on Monday.