The Weekend Leader - Breaking Barriers: Indian Trio Makes Semifinals in ITF Women's Tennis Tour

Breaking Barriers: Indian Trio Makes Semifinals in ITF Women's Tennis Tour



Photo: IANS

In a boost to women’s tennis in India, as many as three of them made it to the last four of the ongoing ITF Women’s World Tennis Tour, here on Friday.

Rutuja Bhosale, seeded third and the top-ranked Indian in the fray with Kazakhstan’s fifth-seeded Zhibek Kulambayeva dropped a set but came back strongly to win 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-1.

In the semifinals, Rutuja will take on country mate Zeel Desai, who, oozing with confidence after a win over the top seed in the pre-quarterfinals, lost her way after the first set but was back on track when it mattered to quell the challenge of her stablemate Antonia Schmidt of Germany in three sets 3-6, 6-7 (2), 6-4 to enter the semifinals.

The rest of the matches too went with the form with second seeded Lanlana Tararudee of Thailand securing her last four spot with a clinical 6-1, 6-2 win over seventh seed Diletta Cherubini of Italy and set-up a semifinal clash with in-form Shrivalli Rashmikaa Bhamidipaty who took just 76 minutes to quell the challenge of Vaishnavi Adkar with a 6-1, 6-4 victory.

The 24-year-old Zeel, ranked 938 on the ITF rankings, broke her better-ranked (115) opponent’s serve in the very first game but was immediately broken back. A break in the eighth game gave the German an upperhand and the 22-year-old promptly took the first set 6-3. Zeel, who has two ITF titles under belt this year so far, put up a much better show in the second and committed fewer mistakes.

Both who train under the same coach, matched shot for shot and barring on a few occasions where there were long rallies, both came up with good winners. The set was aptly decided via a tie-breaker, where Antonia found herself committing a couple of unforced errors which brought back Zeel into contention.

In the deciding set, the Ahmedabad-born Zeel raced to a 5-1 lead courtesy breaks in the 1st and 3rd games. Zeel who trains at the Boris Becker and Tennis University took it a bit easy, an opportunity which her rival pounced upon to win the next three games and reduces the margin to 4-5. Zeel found her mojo back at the nick of the time and wound of the game, set and match dropping just a point.

Rutuja who is battling a viral admitted that it was with her heart and strong will that she won the match. After giving it the best in the first set which she won in a tie-breaker, she suddenly lost all her energy in the second and lost 1-6 to her Kazakh rival who is also her doubles partner. Garnering all the mental strength she could she annexed the third set and match at 1. - IANS

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