India’s top-ranked tennis player Ankita Raina and young Karman Kaur Tandi lost their opening matches in the Billy Jean Cup playoffs to Latvia’s Elena Ostapenko and Anastasia Sevastova to start their campaign with a disappointing note.
While Ostapenko was forced to work hard for his 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 victory over Raina in a match in which the home favorite made many unforced errors, Latvia’s No. 1 Sevastova, ranked 47th, posted 6-4, 6-0 victory over Tandy, ranked number 691.
India is playing at this stage of the competition for the first time and on paper are the obvious outsiders.
While Raina pushed her opponent to the end with a sparkling blow from both sides, Ostapenko’s experience at the highest level was enough to ensure victory.
India №1 Raina, 174th in the WTA rankings, started a little nervous, but soon stepped into it and fought hard from the back of the court, the preferred domain of the home player, who is the champion of the French Open in 2017.
There were six service breaks in the first set, including the two opening games, but the show breaks came in the fourth and fifth games when Ostapenko tried and then held his serve to find a clear lead.
After overcoming her early nerves, Raina passed the ball hard and although the second set was also remarkable for her mistakes, not her winners, Raina faked a 5-2 lead, trying Ostapenko twice. Ostapenko returned to 5-5, but her concentration shook once more and the Latvian gave a lot of points or was defeated because of the pace of the incredible beating of the Indian.
In the deciding set, both players traded shots as equals and the difference between world numbers 52 and 174 blurred. It was only at the very end that Ostapenko shortened the rally as much as possible to make things more difficult for Raina and paid for what could have been a major sad victory for India.
“I’m not happy with the game at all,” said Ostapenko. “Just happy with the way I would fight. I managed to play not the best and I won this game and brought the point to my team. But overall it was difficult to play with her (Raina),” said the Latvian after a race that continued. two hours and 24 minutes.
Sevastova tried Tandy in the first game, but had broken back in the eighth game before breaking again in the next game and holding the set.
Sevastova was a test in sequence rather than in brilliance, while Tandy, who girded the ball and served powerfully, struck several spectacular ground strikes. But the Indian did not have the ability to maintain the level needed to throw Sevastova off balance and the Latvian saw the game of the day, winning the second set of love in a match lasting one hour and 17 minutes.
In the opposite single, Sevastova will play with Raina, while Ostapenko will take on Tandi.
The draw will end with couples with Latvian Diana Marchinkevitsa and Daniela Vismane, who have to face the Indian couple Sania Mirza and Raina.
Results: Jelena Ostapenko (Latin) Bt Ankita Raina (Ind.) 6-2, 5-7, 7-5; Anastasia Sevastova (Lat) bt Karman Kaur Thandi (Ind) 6-4, 6-0.