Indian wild cards face home pressure, tougher opponents at Mumbai Open tennis
Tough draw for Zeel Desai as Indians try to justify wildcards in the Mumbai Open 125k Series WTA tennis tournamenttennis Updated: Nov 19, 2017 23:44 IST
Mumbai: It would be an important test for the four Indian wild card entrants — Ankita Raina, Karman Kaur Thandi, Rutuja Bhosale and Zeel Desai — as they start their campaign in the L&T Mumbai Open 125K Series event at the Cricket Club of India (CCI) tennis courts on Monday.
They are among the best female tennis players in the country who have risen in the rankings by sweating it out in the 10K & 20K events on the ITF circuit. With no WTA event in the country for the last five years, they’ve had to go abroad to compete in stronger events.
Now they get a chance to prove their mettle in a 125K Series event at home against strong opponents in conditions they are familiar with.
All four admitted that playing a 125K Series event at home was a great opportunity for them but said they are not facing extra pressure.
Ankita Raina, at 281 the top ranked player in the country, has been drawn to meet unseeded Russian Veronika Kudermetova in the first round while 19-year-old Karman, the second highest ranked Indian at 312, will meet Slovenia’s 26-year-old Dalila Jakupovic, ranked 242, in the first round.
Maharashtra girl Rutuja Bhosale, ranked 604th, opens her campaign against qualifier Deniz Khazaniuk of Israel, who is ranked 274.
India’s top junior player, the 18-year-old Zeel Desai, who is ranked 790, has the toughest draw as she faces seventh-seed Carol Zhao of Canada, who is ranked 150 in the world.
“For me, pressure is a privilege. I don’t know how she plays. It is going to be a good match and I will try my best,” said Karman.
“I played Veronika sometime last year in doubles but have not seen her play recently. But my focus is going to be on myself. I think it will be a good first round,” said Ankita after the draw.
Zeel, who has the toughest task among all Indians, said she would try and make the most of the opportunity. “It’s definitely a tough draw as she is seventh seed but I would try to do my best. Yes, I don’t have anything to lose, so I can play my own game,” said the girl from Gujarat who trains in Ahmedabad.
Results (qualifying round): Ana Bogdan (ROU) bt Naiktha Bains (AUS) 6-0, 6-1; Deniz Khazaniuk (ISR) bt Ling Zhang (HKG) 7-5, 6-4; Alizé Lim (FRA) bt Julia Glushko (ISR) 6-0, 6-3; Hiroko Kuwata (JPN) bt Anna Morgina (RUS) 7-5, 6-4.
Centre court (Play starts 3pm)
7-Carol Zhao (CAN) v Zeel Desai
Karman Kaur Thandi v DalilaJakupovic (SLO)
(Not before 5 pm)
Rutuja Bhosale/Ankita Raina v Victoria Rodgiquez (Mex)/Babiane Schoofs (NED).
Court 1 (Play starts at 3pm)
8-Irina Khromacheva (RUS) v Sabina Sharipova (UZB)
Mayo Hibi (JPN) v Alize Lim (FRA)
Laura Robson (GBR) v 3-Yanina Wickamyer (BEL)
Court 2 (Play starts 3pm)
Marie Bouzkova (CZE) v Valentyna Ivakhnenko (RUS)
Hiroko Kuwata (JPN) v Fanny Stollar (HUN)