Mumbai: Despite a strong start and a mini-fightback after saving three match points, Karman Kaur Thandi bowed out in the first round of the L&T Mumbai Open on Wednesday. The 20-year-old Indian wild card entrant lost 2-6, 4-6 to top seed and world No 47 Zheng Saisai in an hour and 17 minutes at the Cricket Club of India courts.
Thandi, ranked 215 in the world, started the first match of the day on the centre court with her foot on the pedal. She reeled off 10 straight points breaking her much higher ranked opponent in the very first game to take a promising 2-0 lead.
But once the Chinese player settled into her rhythm, she outplayed the error-prone Thandi to win nine straight games after racing to a set lead. From 2-0, the Indian went on to drop the first set 2-6.
Before Saisai served for the first set, Thandi called her coach Aditya Sachdeva on court. Mumbai is the first tournament that he is travelling with her this year and after the brief chat, she tried to attack more.
The second set started with more errors from Thandi’s racquets as she committed a double fault and ultimately gave up the early advantage. In fact, after her first service game, Thandi’s big serve was constantly under pressure and while she got two aces in, she also committed four double faults.
“At 2-0, 30-0 up, I should have won the game. If I had won that I could have had a much better chance. I was missing a lot of short balls and that is where I lost it,” Thandi said after her match.
But after going down 0-4, she won her first game of the second set and started showing signs of revival. Serving to stay in the match, she fended off three match points, saving the third with a strong winner.
There were several moments in the match when Thandi showed glimpses of a fight, but she was too erratic, especially on her forehand.
At 1-5 down and with very little to lose, she started attacking Saisai’s serve, adding a lot more zing to her shots and caught her opponent off guard. Her service game saw three unreturnable serves, enough indication of what the 20-year-old is capable of if she can maintain a consistent level.
The 20-year-old also took heart from the fact that she was better today than her first match against Saisai where she had lost 6-4, 6-0 in China in July.
She had tried to enforce her ground-strokes from the baseline but didn’t come forward and take the ball early when the opportunity arose. The one time she did come ahead, she dumped the shot into the net which probably made her even more hesitant to move around.
But it was coming to the net that finally got her a breakthrough as she held serve after being match points down and then won three straight games with the best tennis she played through the match.
“The one thing I learned today was that I have to work on finishing my points and come to net to volley,” she said, counting positives.