Young Indian girls Karman Kaur Thandi and Zeel Desai, both given wild cards, produced some creditable performances but crashed to straight sets defeat against superior opponents in first round matches of the L&T Mumbai Open WTA 125K Series, played at the CCI tennis courts, on Monday.
The 19-year-old Karman, who is now the top Indian, having moved up to 284 on the latest WTA rankings released on Monday, put up quite a fight against unseeded 26-year-old Dalila Jakupovic of Slovenia, the 242nd ranked, before losing 2-6, 6-4 in a little over an hour on Centre Court.
Earlier, 18-year-old Zeel, ranked 709 in the WTA ranking tried her best to match the 22-year-old Zhao, who has a ranking of 150 in the world before slumping to a 3-6, 1-6 defeat in an hour an seven minutes.
The lanky Karman struggled initially and tamely lost the opening set. But she managed to find her range of shots in the second and put up a strong fight. She did well to stay abreast her Slovenian opponent as the scores went level pegging till 4-all. In the next Dalila managed to get a crucial break in the ninth before serving out for the set.
Karman rued the missed opportunities for her loss. “I had my chances in the game, but I was lacking on my service in the match. I played better in the second set and had an advantage at 4-4, as I was 30-0 up, however my service game let me down.
Dalila was playing well as she used the drop shot to good effect. I was able to reach them, but I missed silly shots as well,” said Karman during the post match conference.
“It was a great experience, and that too at home. It has been a great opportunity for me and I’m looking forward to the doubles tomorrow,” Karman added.
The former junior ranked 18, Zeel, started impressively against Zhao and they kept trading breaks as the Indian girl managed to stay within distance at 3-4. But the Canadia held serve in the eight before getting a vital break in the ninth to win the first set 6-3. Zhao completely dominated the second set and went on to take the second set 6-1 and close out the match.
Zeel was not too disappointed and was quite pleased with her performance. “It was a very important match for me but she was more aggressive, which helped her,” said Zeel. “I was happy with my first serve and won quite a few points on my serve,” she added.
Meanwhile, eighth-seeded Russian Irina Khromacheva became the first casualty going down in three grueling sets to unseeded Sabina Sharipova of Uzbekistan 2-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(3).
However, Irina’s compatriot Valentyna Ivakhnenko sailed to the second round defeating Czech Republic’s Marie Bouzkova 6-3, 6-3 in another first round match, played between unseeded players.
Results (1st round): 7-Carol Zhao (CAN) beat Zeel Desai (IND) 6-3, 6-1.
Dalila Jakupovic (SLO) beat Karman Kaur Thandi (IND) 6-2, 6-4.
Sabina Sharipova (UZB) beat 8-Irina Khromacheva (RUS) 2-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(3).
Valentyna Ivakhnenko (RUS) beat Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 6-3, 6-3.