Japan’s world No 123 Nao Hibino toppled former Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Lisicki in the match of the day at the $125K WTA L&T Mumbai Open on Tuesday. The 23-year-old fought back from a set down to beat the German wildcard entrant 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the first round.
Dalila Jakupovic, the 2017 runner up and now second seed, reached the second round without breaking a sweat beating, Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova 6-4, 6-1.
However, American third seed Sachia Vickery’s campaign came to an end as she retired in the first match of the day after her knee injury, which kept her out of action for two months, resurfaced. Israel’s Deniz Khazaniuk, ranked 252, beat the world No 96 2-6, 7-5, 5-1.
“I couldn’t go on and was in constant pain from about 2-1 but tried to play as long as I could. But maybe I should not have pushed myself,” the American said, adding that this will be the end of her 2018 season.
But the biggest result was Lisicki, a former world No 12, losing the close match which left her in tears. The 29-year-old has fallen off the charts due to persistent injuries in the last couple of years and ranked 220 in the world, has been playing on the Futures circuit to get back on top.
She put up a strong fight but the diminutive Japanese proved to be too swift in the end. The duo exchanged three breaks in the first five games and but the fifth break proved to be decisive as an aggressive Lisicki took the first set.
However, Hibino, who relies on her defensive style, began to induce errors from the German, pushing all over. The second set was neck-to-neck till Lisicki played one bad service game at 4-3, which turned out to be decisive.
The third set saw high level of tennis from both with Lisicki saving seven break points in the very first game, before giving up serve. Hibino consolidated her break and kept chasing everything, putting the ball back in play no matter what. The Japanese played a courageous match to keep herself in contention all times.
Only about 5’3’’ in height, Hibino used her quick footwork to unsettle Lisicki, who is on the comeback trail, holding her serve and nerve.
“I know she would be attacking my serve so I had to make sure my second serve was also strong. I used my second serve like I would my first serve and kept at it,” she said after the match.
A distraught Lisicki said that she had worked hard on her recovery and return but may or may not play more this year as she was still low on energy. “I wanted very much to win this, to get more games here but maybe sometimes you want something so bad, it just goes bad,” she said. However, the German said she hoped to return next year.
In the other results Valentini Grammatikopoulu beat wild card Kwan Yau N 6-0, 6-2 while Sabina Sharipova beat Misaki Doi 6-1, 7-6 and Bibiane Schoofs beat Jana Fett 6-3, 6-2.
Prarthana Thombare and Luksika Khumkum put up a tough fight but lost 2-6,6-2,7-10 to Natalija Kostic and Shu-ying Hseih in their first round doubles match.
Indian players will be in action in the singles competition on Wednesday, with Karman Thandi taking on top seed Zheng Saisai at 4.00 pm. Ankita Raina is expected to come on around 8.30 p.m. when she faces compatriot Rutuja Bhosle.
Results: Deniz Khazaniuk (ISR) bt Sachia Vickery (USA) 2-6, 7-5, 5-1 (retd); Dalila Jakupovic (SLO) bt Veronika Kudermetov (RUS) 6-4, 6-1; Bibiane Schoofs (NED) bt Jana Fett (CRO) 6-3, 6-2; Jia-jang LU (CHN) bt Ivana Jorvic (SRB) 5-7, 6-1, 6-1; Sabina Sharipova (UZB) bt Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-1, 7-6; Valentini Grammatikopoulu (GRE) bt Kwan Yau NG (HKG) 6-0, 6-2; Nao Hibino (JPN) bt Sabine Lisicki (GER) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.