When the L&T Mumbai Open WTA 125k series was announced and the Indian wildcard entries were revealed, Sahaja Yamalapalli was overjoyed with the opportunity presented to her.
She expressed her gratitude for the wildcard to the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA) Secretary Sundar Iyer.
Soon after she repaid the faith in stunning fashion conjuring the biggest victory of her nascent tennis career in the first round knocking off the top seeded American Kayla Day, who is a WTA top-100 player.
The World No 520 said the win has changed her perspective about her own game.
"The level is very high and to be around them is a big learning experience. When you play with them you get the confidence that I can do this and I went into the match believing that I can pull this off. She is a top 100 player and I have never played a top 100 player before."
"I just wanted to give everything I have and see what happens. When I got a couple of match points I was shaking that I am winning this. I'm really glad that I could pull it off. Kayla is a really good player," she added.
The 22-year-old felt the victory augurs well for the future.
"Ofcourse, it's a very big win and at this point of my career. It's all mental and I know I can do this. It's a top 100 player. After this win, I feel I can beat anyone and I was that confident," Sahaja stated.
The Hyderabad lass felt certain aspects of her game have immensely improved off late.
"Fitness has improved and so has physical strength. My forehand has become more powerful. I have been lately working on my serve and I have big ground strokes now,'' she revealed.
Sahaja also reaped the benefits of having played in the US collegiate circuit and said she had watched Kayla Day play there.
"I have seen Kayla play before in the US and although I had not played her, I knew her game and that helped me. I've been wanting to see where I stand and hence wanted to play her,'' she added.
Shrivalli Bhamidipaty caused a stir as well when she pulled off a heist against second seeded Japanese Nao Hibino.
The Hyderabadi exuded the same confidence of her city-mate Sahaja.
"As I walked into the court I told myself that I'm going to give my best in the game. After the first set, I told myself I'm going to keep fighting harder and that's what I have been doing."
"I just wanted to keep believing in myself and keep playing longer and longer. I wanted to make her work for every point. The heat is also a factor as we Indians handle it much better. Being from Hyderabad, I acclimatized well." Shrivalli, who considers Novak Djokovic as one of her rolemodels, feels Indian tournaments helped her game recently.
"Off late, there are a lot of tournaments being organised in India. It's a big boost to all of us. Every match we are learning something irrespective of winning and losing, which is part and parcel of the game."
Shrivalli divides her training time between Hyderabad and Delhi.
"I am currently training with two coaches: Vishal Uppal and AR Ananth Kumar. My base is Hyderabad but I keep shuttling to Delhi as well and my trainers are Shiva and Naidu,'' she added.