Free Press Journal

Indian players falter; Indian origin Naiktha Bains impresses


Mumbai : Naiktha Bains, the Australian of Indian origin provided some cheer for the Indian tennis fans as she came through her first qualifying round match, while all the Indian players had a dismal day during the qualifiers of the L&T Mumbai Open WTA125K Series, hosted at the CCI tennis courts, Churchgate on Saturday.

The 19-year-old Naiktha showed awesome touch and plenty of variety in her play to sideline Cornelia Lister of Sweden in straight games. The 374th ranked player  dropped just two games en route to a 6-2, 6-0 win against the 437th ranked Cornelia with plenty to spare.

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.

Meanwhile, the Indian girls Riya Bhatia, Nidhi Chilumula, Natasha Palha and Pranjala Yadlapalli, all went down without offering much of a fight.

The 20-year Riya (rank 545) made a promising start against the higher ranked 27-year-old Alizé Lim (rank 308) of France and with an early break seized a 3-0 lead. But, thereafter she completely fizzled out losing the next 12 games to succumb to a 3-6, 0-6 defeat. On the adjacent court, 23-year-old Nidhi Chilumula (rank 855) came a cropper against Russian 26-year-old Anna Morgina (rank 337) and suffered a 1-6, 3-6 defeat.

Meanwhile, 23-year-old Natasha Palha (rank 783) won just a solitary game against Israel’s 23-year-old Deniz Khazaniuk (rank 274) losing 1-6, 0-6, while 18-year-old Pranjala Yadlapalli did not get on the scoreboard losing 0-6, 0-6 to 24-year-old Romanian top-seed Ana Bogdan (rank 111).

In the most interesting match of the day, Ling Zhang of Hong Kong recovered from the loss of the first set to overcome Georgia’s Oksana Kalashnikova 4-6, 6-1, 6-1.

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