Mumbai: Another Indian wildcard exited the L&T Mumbai Open in the first round as Rutuja Bhosale went down 6-4, 6-3 to Israeli qualifier Deniz Khazaniuk in an hour and 15 minutes on Tuesday.
Bhosale, ranked 577, had her chances against the world No 271, but her usually reliable serve deserted her for a large chunk of the match. In a way, her inability to enforce her serve cost her the match, as the 21-year-old was sharp with her groundstrokes and winners, the straight-sets defeat notwithstanding.
She started with a double fault in the opening game, and while she held in that game, both Bhosale and her Israeli opponent, who is to meet French woman Amandine Hesse in the second round, found it difficult to hold serve after 1-1.
The Indian was subsequently broken in her next two service games despite some powerful groundstrokes. She got her first break in the sixth game to level the set at 3-3 but once again couldn’t hold her serve in the crucial seventh game.
Serving to stay in the set and facing another break point, she put up a stunning display and saved the game as her whipping winners finally clicked, a glimpse of what was possible. She started attacking the second serve but more unforced errors in the decisive game and a disputed call later, Khazaniuk had the set 6-4 in 40 minutes.
In the second set the Indian went for her shots more often and her winners became sharper, but she couldn’t land a majority of them straight. Khazaniuk raced to a 4-0 lead as Bhosale struggled, facing break points on love.
Staring at a ‘bagel’ loss, she then won her first service game of the set with a crisp ace and looked to finally shake off the rust. She played a more attacking game, going for broke but committed unforced errors in the bargain.
But she couldn’t break Khazaniuk’s serve and had to serve to stay in the game. The 21-year-old held in the crucial game and then broke the Israeli after a stunning rally in what was clearly point of the day for the Indian.
However, it was her serve that failed her at the clutch moment once again as she double faulted and then gave away match points on yet another unforced error.
Bhosale admitted that it was her tentative serve, especially in the first set that titled the game in her opponent’s favour.
“I didn’t know whether I should go for my shots or stick to the rallies but I think the way I played in the second set is usually how I play - going for the shots,” she said after the match. “They weren’t clear winners and no matter how hard I hit, they were coming back and I didn’t want to exert my shoulder anymore. But in the second set at 3-0 I just went for it and it helped, I should have done that in the first set as well.”
She also spoke about how the Israeli attacked her forehand, a plan that seemed to work.
“It was just really up and down,” she said. “I usually like to dominate on my forehand side, but she held me on my backhand a lot so I tried to run around my forehand, but I missed a lot. Maybe it was my footwork or I mistimed the ball but my unforced errors were just way up there.”
However, she also took positives from the match, focusing on what she needed to change and work on. “Obviously right now I am not strong enough, these girls are so fit and that’s one aspect I need to work on.”
Bhosale also spoke about the ‘balls factor’ coming into play more and more in the match.
“First of all I knew how Deniz plays, she is a counter-puncher, she puts a lot of balls back with a lot of spin and I knew that I had to hit a lot of balls and the courts really helped her,” Bhosale explained. “But once the balls are new, I I felt like I was going for my shots and that it helped me but once we played more games, the balls got bigger and I felt like they got heavier. For me, as I hit it flat, it was really hard for me to go through. Most of the shots I was hitting were just not going off my racket. The balls were really heavy and I could feed it on my shoulder.”
And that was the other concern for Bhosale, her shoulder not being right.
“I am heavy on my shoulder right now. I do have a labral SLAP (Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior) tear. But only 10% (of the reason for defeat), is injury on my shoulder. It’s been there for a couple of years and I don’t want to undergo surgery as the rehab is really helping me.”
In the doubles, three more Indians lost in the first round but the pair of Karman Kaur Thandi and Pranjala Yadlapalli defeated Naiktha Bains (Australia) and Fanny Stollar (Hungary) 6-3, 7-5 in 1 hour 22 minutes.
Prathana Thombare and her Japanese partner Hiroko Kuwata lost to Julia Glushko of Israel and Priscilla Hon of Australia 2-6, 3-6.
Earlier, Amandine Hesse’s gritty fightback to knock out fourth seed Arina Rodionova of Australia winning 7-6(2), 6-3 victory in an hour and 45 minutes. The 24-year-old Frenchwomen trailed 2-5 in the first set, but came back by winning the next four games and then the tiebreaker.
Meanwhile, second seed Ana Bogdan of Romania cruised to the second round with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Mexico’s Victoria Rodrigues, while Chinese Jia-Jing Lu also had an easy out getting past Hungary’s Dalma Galfi 6-2, 6-2.
Deniz Khazaniuk (ISR) bt Rutuja Bhosale (IND) 6-4, 6-3;
2-Ana Bogdan (ROU) bt Victoria Rodrigues (MEX) 6-1, 6-1;
Amandine Hesse (FRA) bt Arina Rodionova (AUS) 7-6(2), 6-3;
Jia-Jing Lu (CHN) bt Dalma Galfi (HUN) 6-2, 6-2;
Julia Glushko (ISR)/Priscilla Hon (AUS) bt Hiroko Kuwata (JPN)/Prarthana Thombare (IND) 6-2, 6-3;
2-Dalila Jakupovic (SLO)/Irina Khromacheva (RUS) bt Ksenia Palkina (KGZ)/Ling Zhang (HKG) 6-2, 6-0
Junri Namigata (JPN)/Peangtarn Plipuech (THA) bt Valentyna Ivakhnenko (RUS)/Sabina Sharipova (UZB) 6-1, 6-4.
Karman Kaur Thandi (IND)/Pranjala Yadlapalli (IND) bt Naiktha Bains (AUS)/Fanny Stollar (HUN) 6-3, 7-5.