Qualifier Pranjala Yadlapalli impressed on her WTA main draw debut as she came close to beating fifth seed Luksika Kumkhum of Thailand before going down 6-3, 5-7, 1-6 in the first round of the L&T Mumbai Open on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old Indian, playing the third match of the centre court at CCI, started strong getting a break in the third game and then to seal the set. The Thai veteran was struggling early on and the teen kept the pressure on, enforcing errors.
But once Kumkhum started getting her groove right as Pranjala served for the match at 5-3, it was difficult for the Indian to come back.
Once the Thai took the second set with five straight games, it was game over for the debutant. She lost the first four games of the decider before trying to mount a comeback but she fell short of both experience and aggression.
The turning point for the Thai player came when Pranjala was broken 5-3 (in a game where she faced seven break points) to come back from 2-5 to win 7-5.
Once she was broken then, a fired up Kumkhum kept the pressure on and closed out the match. She saved 64% of the break points she faced, to her opponent’s 54%.
Despite the loss, this year’s Mumbai Open has been a positive experience for the India No 3 who sailed through the qualifying round. Even in her main draw match she was faster, moved around well, keeping the ball in play. Her deep returns as well as net points showed her range and fitness, which has improved after joining the Impact Tennis Academy in Thailand under new coach Stephen Koon.