Mumbai WTA: Sahaja, Rutuja lose in Round of 16 | Tennis News - Hindustan Times

Mumbai WTA: Sahaja, Rutuja lose in Round of 16

By, Mumbai
Feb 08, 2024 10:53 PM IST

India’s Prarthana Thombare and her Dutch partner Arianne Hartono earned a 6-4, 6-2 win against Sapfo Sakellaridi and Olivia Tjandramulia.

Having knocked out top seed Kayla Day in the opening round, India’s Sahaja Yamalapalli was on the cusp of booking her spot in the quarter-finals of the WTA $125,000 L&T Mumbai Open on Thursday. But despite being 5-2 up in the third set, she couldn’t get the job done as Russia’s Polina Kudermetova completed a stunning turnaround to win 1-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Rutuja Bhosale was defeated by American Katie Volynets
Rutuja Bhosale was defeated by American Katie Volynets

With that result, India’s singles challenge in the tournament, being played here at the Cricket Club of India, came to an end as Rutuja Bhosale was defeated by American Katie Volynets earlier in the day.

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In the doubles section, India’s Prarthana Thombare and her Dutch partner Arianne Hartono earned a 6-4, 6-2 win against the Greek-Aussie pair of Sapfo Sakellaridi and Olivia Tjandramulia to reach the semi-finals.

Ranked 336 in the world, Sahaja blazed through the opening set. Polina then took a medical timeout and got her left thigh strapped but somehow found a way to level things up. The home player was broken at the start of the third set but won the next four games and looked set to cross the line. But the Russian remained composed, mixed the pace of her shots smartly, and won five consecutive games to close out the match.

The 23-year-old Hyderabad-based player, who had been handed a wild card by organisers MSLTA (Maharashtra tennis association), struck the ball powerfully for the majority of the contest. But perhaps nerves got the better of her towards the end as she hit a number of unforced errors.

“I started well but here and then, when it mattered, I couldn’t execute my shots,” said Sahaja after her loss. “But I think there were many good things in the match which I can build on. It was a motivating because I tried many different things out of my comfort zone. I think it’ll help take me to the next level. I’m a little sad that I lost but it’s okay, it’s tennis and I’m just going to take the good things out of it.”

Earlier, eighth seed Katie survived a stern test to beat Rutuja 7-6(8), 2-6, 6-1. The 22-year-old, who has seven main draw appearances at Grand Slams, had defeated world No.16 Veronika Kudermetova to reach the Australia Open third round last month.

“She (Rutuja) is really powerful and the last two days I’ve been having big stomach problems,” said Katie after her win. “So, I knew I had to be more aggressive and use my energy as well as possible. Of course, with her level today, she made it really difficult to play quick points. I had to keep battling despite not feeling well.”

Of the 27 games that were played in the match between Katie and Rutuja, 16 saw breaks of serve. And of those 16 breaks, eight came in the first set. It was an astonishing passage of play where neither player could hold on to momentum. Katie was serving at 5-4 and then 6-5 but Rutuja showed incredible grit to force a tie-breaker. But eventually, despite giving it her all, the American managed to get her nose ahead.

Rutuja, who had twisted her ankle three days earlier and seemed to be out of breath consistently, somehow found a second wind to break thrice in the second set and take the match to a decider. But her intense physical exertion in the opening set went on to take its toll in the third as Katie, ranked 113, powered through.

“I think my ball tolerance is high,” said Katie. “Usually, I like to change things in my game and go to the net as well. But sometimes when nothing is working right, I know I can stay patient and still make my opponent’s life really difficult. It’s a good thing for me to be able to fall back on.”

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