TENNIS

Dominant Ankita Raina storms into quarter-finals of WTA Mumbai Open

The Indian wild card entrant eased through with a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 win over Thailand’s Peangtarn Plipuech in 67 minutes.

India’s Ankita Raina stormed into the quarterfinals of the L&T Mumbai Open with a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 win over Thailand’s Peangtarn Plipuech in just 67 minutes on Thursday.

A day after beating world No 233 Veronika Kudermetova in the first round, Raina upped up her game further as she dropped just four games before defeating the crafty Thai player, who is ranked 244th in the world.

The wildcard entrant dominated her opponent, who had knocked out sixth seed Lizette Cabrera in the first round. The two players headed into the match with a 2-2 head-to-head record. As the game commenced, though, it became apparent very quickly that Raina held the edge over her opponent.

Raina chose to play with precision over power, showing off just how much her game has matured over the years. Plipuech struggled to get a hold in the match despite several attempts to force a fightback. In the end it was Raina who crossed the line comfortably sealing her third win over the Thai.

“Since I played her before I knew she would put the ball down the line and try to move me side to side,” Raina said after the match. “I had to mix it up a little bit. I normally play an aggressive game but I realised that the powerful shots were not the right ones to play, so I tried to use my drop shots to break her rhythm.”

“I had practiced this in training in the morning and today’s game was a much smarter one in comparison to yesterday’s match (against Kudermetova),” she added.

Easing through

The match started with Plipuech pushing Raina to all corners of the court and going for deuce in the first two service games. Raina drew first blood as she broke her opponent in third game but Plipuechon responded by breaking back to love.

The Indian got another break in the sixth game as Plipuech committed a double fault. The next game saw a long, gruelling rally but Raina played it smart, keeping up with her opponent’s shots. Serving to stay in the set, Plipuech was broken by a series of powerful winners from Raina as the Indian took the set in 38 minutes.

Throughout the set, Raina adjusted her game to hit sharp winners just out of reach of the speedy Thai player. The wildcard kept her cool and converted 3 out her five break points while giving away only one.

The Indian started the second set even more aggressively, working her way to a 3-0 lead. She was mixing her shots up and played some stunning drops to take control. In front of a cheering crowd, she maintained the pressure on Plipuech and didn’t let the quick-footed player dictate the pace of the game.

In the fifth game, Plipuech fought back from a 40-0 deficit to get deuce twice. Raina, though, showed maturity to complete a gritty hold at the crunch moment. The Thai girl, though, seemed determined to stretch the match and broke Rain in the next game on love.

Raina shot right back and got triple match points on Plipuech’s serve, sealing the match on a long shot from the Thai.

The Indian got emotional after the win, touching the court in reverence and acknowledging the crowd with a wave. The victory also mean that Raina has now reclaimed her position as the top ranked Indian in the WTA rankings.

In the quarters, Raina will meet France’s Amandine Hesse, who beat Israel qualifier Denis Khazaniuk 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 in the second round.

Results (2nd round): 5-Naomi Broady (GBR) bt Junri Namigata (JPN) 6-2, 6-2; Amandine Hesse (FRA) bt Q-Deniz Khazaniuk (ISR) 6-3, 4-6, 6-1; WC-Ankita Raina (IND) bt Peangtarn Plipuech (THA) 6-2, 6-2.

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