Carrying on her fine form, Pranjala Yadlapalli qualified for her first ever main draw at the WTA level. She became the fourth Indian in the main draw of the WTA $125K Mumbai Open after storming through the qualifying with straight sets wins in both rounds.
The 19-year-old beat Oksana Kalashnikova 6-3, 6-3 in the second and final round of qualifying on Sunday, continuing her good run from Saturday where she beat compatriot Mihika Yadav 6-3, 6-0.
Another Indian, 17-year-old Mahak Jain, who had stunned a much higher-ranked player on Saturday, however went down 6-3, 6-4 to Japan’s Hiroko Kuwata and failed to qualify for the main draw.
Pranjala, who has climbed out to a career best ranking of 280, had bowed out in the qualifying last year but is confident ahead of her main draw debut.
“I think today’s match I was moving very well, played aggressive and was consistent and did what had to be done to win. I did a few silly mistakes but to control against a leftie player, I thought I did well. If I give in her hand, the ball is dead and her leftie serve has good power so I tried to open the court and make her move,” Pranjala told Scroll.in after her match on Sunday.
“She was once upon a time she was 156 so she knows how to play at this level. In the beginning, she was whacking the ball left and right and I thought I would have to run la lot to counter that. I was bending low and hitting as well to mix it up,” she added.
She also felt that not getting a wildcard for the main draw in Mumbai proved helpful as coming through qualifying will help her get more game time and points on the relaid courts at CCI.
“I got a few matches and some points which I would not have got if I had gotten through the main draw directly,” she said.
The third-ranked Indian women’s singles player is coming off back-to-back $25K ITF tiltles in Lagos, Nigeria and her recent stint with Stephen Koon at the Impact Tennis Academy in Thailand has made her a much more fitter and aggressive player. Picked by Koon, who also trains India’s No 1 men’s singles player Yuki Bhambri, Pranjala’s game has changed drastically in the past few months and the results showing her improvement.
Pranjala, who is currently sponsored by the Andhra Pradesh government and GVK Group, who had also sponsored Sania Mirza, is in Mumbai without her coach as it in an expensive prospect. However, a good performance at her first main draw appearance at a home event could prove to be a turning point for the teenager.
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