Indian players bite the dust in qualifying round of Mumbai Open tennis tournament
The four Indian players in the fray -- Pranjala Yadlapalli, Natasha Palha, Riya Bhatia and Nidhi Chilumula -- could not manage to win a single set against their higher ranked opponents in the qualifying rounds of the Mumbai Open WTA 125k series tennis tournamenttennis Updated: Nov 18, 2017 21:05 IST
How much time will it take for Indian players to make it to the singles main draw of top WTA events? The question was raised during a press conference to announce the Mumbai Open WTA 125K Series tennis tournament last week.
“If one gets to play tournaments regularly and performs consistently, in 4-5 years Indian female players would earn enough ranking points to get into main draw of WTA tournaments,” replied Sunder Iyer, secretary, Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA).
In the absence of tournaments providing higher rankings and prize money, Indian players have to travel abroad to participate in such tournaments, which is a costly affair.
The gulf in standard was quite apparent as all four Indian players in the qualifying draw of the Mumbai Open failed to get past the first hurdle.
In fact, none of them could manage to win a single set against their higher ranked opponents. All four of them could manage to win a combined total of eight games among themselves.
Pranjala Yadlapalli, at 500 the third-highest ranked Indian in WTA rankings who received a wild card into the qualifying round, was no match for the 111th ranked Ana Bogdan of Romania, the top seed in qualifying draw. Yadlapalli was handed a double bagel.
Natasha Palha lost 1-6, 0-6 to Deniz Khazaniuk of Israel, Riya Bhatia went down 3-6, 6-0 to Alize Lim of France while Nidhi Chilumula lost 1-6, 3-6 to Anna Morgina of Russia.
Naiktha Bains, the Australian player of Indian origin, provided some cheer for the Indian tennis fans as she came through her first qualifying round match.
The 19-year-old Naiktha showed awesome touch and plenty of variety to sideline Cornelia Lister of Sweden in straight games. The 374th ranked Aussie dropped just two games en route a 6-2, 6-0 win against the 437th ranked Lister.
Naiktha was glad to be in Mumbai and playing her maiden WTA event in India. “It’s great to be here in Mumbai and India. I arrived here on Thursday and just love this place. Both my grandparents are from Punjab and it feels nice to play here in India,” said Naiktha, who was born in England and moved to Australia with her parents at the age of eight.
“I played really well. I was solid through and did not give her (Cornelia) much of a chance. I hope to sustain the momentum and try to progress further in the competition,” she added.
Four Indians – Ankita Raina, Karman Kaur Thandi, Rutuja Bhosle, and Zeel Desai – have been awarded wild cards into the tournament proper, the draw for which will be conducted on Sunday.
Qualifying, 1st round (Indians unless stated)
3-Hiroko Kuwata (JPN) bt Naoko Eta (JPN) 6-0, 6-0
2-Deniz Khazaniuk (ISR) bt Natasha Palha 6-1, 6-0
6-Ling Zhang (HK) bt Oksana Kalashnikova (GEO) 4-6, 6-1, 6-1
1-Ana Bogdan (ROU) bt Pranjala Yadlapalli 6-0, 6-0
4-Julia Gulshko (ISR) bt Ksenia Palkina (KGZ) 6-3, 6-2
5-Alize Lim (FRA) bt Riya Bhatia 6-3, 6-0
7-Anna Morgina (RUS) bt Nidhi Chilumula 6-1, 6-3
8-Naiktha Bains (AUS) bt Cornelia Lister (SWE) 6-2, 6-0
First Published: Nov 18, 2017 21:05 IST