Mumbai: Ankita Raina showed her experience to knockout Veronika Kudermetova with 7-6 (2), 6-3 win and become only Indian singles player to advance in the L&T Mumbai Open WTA 125K Series at Cricket Club of India tennis courts here on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old seized the deciding moments to prevail over her Russian opponent who showed glimpses of brilliance but committed too many errors at crucial junctures.
She will now meet world No. 244, Peangtarn Plipuech in the round of 16 after the Thai player knocked out sixth seed Lizette Cabrera of Australia 7-6, 6-2 at the other court.
Ankita kept Indian challenge on alongwith Indian pair of Karman Kaur Thandi and Pranjala Yadlapalli going into Thursday.
Ankita had relatively better singles draw than other three Indian wild card holders on Sunday as she had small gap with her opponent in the rankings. But the scenario changed on Monday when WTA released new rankings and Ankita was down by 12 places to 293 and Veronika rose up 22 places to 233. Ankita also had lost No. 1 position in India to Karman Kaur Thandi.
“It always good to have some Indian girl coming up the rankings. It means I may not be alone when I am travelling to play tournaments,” she said after the match.
However, the slip in rankings didn’t affect her game as the Ahmedabad girl was dominating from the start against tall and powerful opponent. She didn’t rush things like her doubles partner Rutuja Bhosale on Tuesday and waited for her chances which came in plenty.
Ankita got 5-1 lead in the first set before Veronika levelled at 5-5 and then 6-6 to force tie-breaker. However, too many errors from the Russian meant Ankita had it easy in the tie-breaker.
“After getting a solid start, I had slowed down mid-way through the first set, but eventually I found my stride back again,” said Ankita who was very expressive during her game and kept on talking to herself.
In the second set Ankita went ahead early on the fourth break point. She held her serve and broke Veronika again to romp to 4-1 lead. But the Russian shot back with dominant display in sixth game to break the Indian and later held serve to make it 3-4.
Ankita had a word with Pune based coach Hemant Bendre. “I tried to adapt to the breeze by trying different things. My coach had advised me to keep up my rhythm and to be patient and wait for my opportunity,” she said. She later took both games to end the engrossing match after 95 minutes.