ITF Women’s Tennis Tour: Unseeded Zeel storms into semis

Bengaluru, Nov 24 (UNI) An unseeded and giant-killer Zeel Desai continued with her consistent show at the ITF Women’s Tennis World Tour by overpowering Germany’s Antonia Schmidt 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-4 in a hard-fought contest here on Friday.

Before meeting the German, Zeel had trounced top-seed Uzbek Nigina Abduraimova at the Bowring Institute Clay Courts in the pre-quarterfinals on Thursday.

Zeel will meet compatriot Rutuja Bhonsale in the semi final tomorrow.

The 24-year-old Zeel, ranked 938 on the ITF rankings, broke her better-ranked (115) opponent’s serve in the very first game but was immediately broken back. A break in the eighth game gave the German an upperhand and the 22-year-old promptly took the first set 6-3.

Zeel, who has two ITF titles under belt this year so far, put up a much better show in the second and committed fewer mistakes. Both who train under the same coach, matched shot for shot and barring on a few occasions where there were long rallies, both came up with good winners.

The set was aptly decided via a tie-breaker, where Antonia found herself committing a couple of unforced errors which brought Zeel into contention.

In the deciding set, the Ahmedabad-born Zeel raced to a 5-1 lead courtesy breaks in the 1st and 3rd games.

Zeel who trains at the Boris Becker and Tennis University took it a bit easy, an opportunity which her rival pounced upon to win the next three games and reduced the margin to 4-5. Zeel found her mojo back at the nick of the time and wound of the game, set and match dropping just a point.

Rutuja, seeded third and the top ranked Indian in fray. Kazakhstan’s fifth seeded Zhibek Kulambayeva dropped a set but came back strongly to win 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-1.

In the semifinals, Rutuja lost her way after the first set but was back on track when it mattered to quell the challenge of her stablemate Antonia Schmidt of Germany in three sets 3-6, 6-7 (2), 6-4 to enter the semifinals.

Rutuja, who is battling a virus, admitted that it was with her heart and strong will that she won the match. After giving it the best in the first set which she won in a tie-breaker, she suddenly lost all her energy in the second and lost 1-6 to her Kazakh rival who is also her doubles partner. Garnering all the mental strength she could she annexed the third set and the match at 6-1.

The rest of the matches too went with the form with second seeded Lanlana Tararudee of Thailand securing her last four spot with a clinical 6-1, 6-2 win over seventh seed Diletta Cherubini of Italy and set-up a semifinal clash with in-form Shrivalli Rashmikaa Bhamidipaty who took just 76 minutes to quell the challenge of Vaishnavi Adkar with a 6-1, 6-4 victory.

Results (All Indians unless mentioned; prefix denotes seeding)

Women’s singles (Quarterfinals)

Shrivalli Rashmikaa Bhamidipaty bt Vaishnavi Adkar 6-1, 6-4; Zeel Desai bt Antonia Schmidt (GER) 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-4; 2-Lanlana Tararudee (THA) bt 7-Diletta Cherubini (ITA) 6-1, 6-2; 3-Rutuja Bhosale bt 5-Zhibek Kulambayeva (KAZ) 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-1.

Doubles (Semifinals)

Diletta Cherubini (ITA)/Antonia Schmidt (GER) bt 3-Shrivalli Rashmikaa Bhamidipaty/Vaidehi Chaudhari 0-6, 6-0, 10-3; 1-Rutuja Bhosale/Zhibek Kulambayeva (KAZ) Vs. 4-Punnin Kovapitukted (THA)/Anna Ureke 2-6, 0-0 (interrupted by bad light and rain).

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