Sahaja, Ankita make the semifinals

Sahaja Yamalapalli quelled the challenge from Saki Imamura of Japan 6-7(5), 6-0, 6-3 in the quarterfinals of the $25,000 ITF women’s tennis tournament at the Tennis Project, Baliawas, on Friday.

On a long day, when a sharp spell of rain provided a much-needed breathing time for the players in the afternoon, the 21-year-old Sahaja won two singles matches. She spent about five hours on court to set up a semifinal against fourth seed Ekaterina Yashina of Russia.

Second seed Ankita Raina was the other Indian to make the semifinals, and did so with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Punnin Kovapitukted of Thailand in a three-hour battle. If anything, the Thai’s remarkably strong game helped Ankita sharpen her arsenal, as she had no option but to hammer a string of winners to close out the match.

In the semifinals, Ankita will be up against third seed Slovakian Viktoria Morvayova, who played the big points well to tame Rutuja Bhosale for the loss of six games.

It took raw courage to recover from the first set loss when she had led 5-1 for Sahaja, to run up a 6-0, 4-0 lead in the match. The Japanese fought back to bridge the gap, before Sahaja served well to take a 5-3 lead. Saki could not survive the onslaught of Sahaja any more and brought the curtains down on her challenge after nearly three hours.

The Japanese, with a heavily strapped thigh, had done the hard work of beating the top seed Diana Marcinkevica of Latvia 6-2, 6-2 earlier in the day.

The results: Quarterfinals: Sahaja Yamalapalli bt Saki Imamura (Jpn) 6-7(5), 6-0, 6-3; Ekaterina Yashina bt Vaidehi Chaudhari 6-4, 4-6, 6-4; Viktoria Morvayova (Svk) bt Rutuja Bhosale 6-4, 6-2; Ankita Raina bt Punnin Kovapitukted (Tha) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Pre-quarterfinals: Saki bt Diana Marcinkevica (Lat) 6-2, 6-2; Sahaja bt Sowjanya Bavisetti 6-2, 6-4; Ekaterina bt Anna Ukolova (Rus) 7-5, 7-6(6); Vaidehi bt Mihika Yadav 6-3, 6-1.

Doubles (quarterfinals): Marcinkevica & Rutuja bt Abhaya Vemuri & Apurva Vemuri 7-5, 6-2; Priska Madelyn Nugroho (Ina) & Ankita bt Punnin & Luksika Kumkhum (Tha) 6-2, 6-2.


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