Friday, Mar 01, 2002
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NEW DELHI, FEB. 28. She fought, but not hard enough against a crafty opponent. Rushmi Chakravarti had an honourable end to her campaign after a 3-6, 6-7 (4-7) defeat at the hands of the fourth-seeded Young-Ja Choi of Korea in the quarterfinals of the Syndicate Bank $ 25,000 ITF women's circuit tennis tournament at the DLTA Complex here on Thursday.
Though younger in comparison, the 20-year-old Korean was far too experienced and had such cunning variation, with a teasing drop to boot, that the Indian was fighting the odds through the match, though she had a spell of fine run to lead 4-1 in the second set.
The 246th ranked Korean was off the blocks swiftly, and took a 5-2 lead with breaks in the fifth and seventh games, capitalising on the tentative play of Rushmi. Choi had a no- nonsense approach and found the angles and placements with accuracy.
Rushmi played freely, briefly though, to show semblances of recovery with a break in the eighth game, but could not sustain the good flow for long as she conceded the set by dropping serve in the ninth game.
In the second set, Rushmi called the shots to race to a 4-1 lead with breaks in the first and fifth games. The 24-year- old National champion played her best during this phase when she revealed her resolve to make a fight of it, saving breakpoints in the second and fourth games.
However, the Korean clawed her way back to be on par at 4-4, after which a further exchange of breaks saw the match move into the tie-break.
The Korean was far too steady to the comfort of Rushmi in the tie-break, and needed only two volley winners, including a delectable drop on third matchpoint, to wind up the proceedings in an hour and 21 minutes.
Overall, it has been a good run for Rushmi, who had not won a round in singles in a $ 25,000 event before. With coaching guidance and a doze of self-belief, Rushmi should be able to better her record.
Rushmi finished with $ 700 and nine WTA points. Choi will have the unenviable task of matching wits with Shuai Peng of China, who dismissed Sybillie Bammer of Austria for the loss of two games.
The intelligent Peng, with an all-round game and considerable athleticism, not to forget keen anticipation, had proved her worth in Mumbai last week, by winning the singles crown in the $ 10,000 event.
It should not be a surprise if she makes her second successive final, despite starting as a qualifier here. The 16- year-old Chinese has kept improving with every match, and has dropped a mere 20 games in six rounds, including three in the qualifying event, so far.
The other semifinal will feature Maria Kondratieva of Russia and Eva Birnerova of the Czech Republic.
Meanwhile, in the doubles event, the Indian challenge came to a surprisingly premature halt. Sai Jayalakshmy and Rushmi started brightly, taking a 5-1 lead, but lost their way thereafter with some loose play, against the second-seeded Koreans, Young-Ja Choi and Eun-Ha Kim, eventually losing 6-4, 3- 6, 0-6.
The top-seeded Manisha Malhotra in partnership with Kiwi Shelley Stephens also bowed out 1-6, 3-6 to Czech qualifiers, Eva Birnerova and Jana Hlavackova.
The doubles semifinalist teams collected 11.5 WTA points and $ 400 .
Singles (quarterfinals): Shuai Peng (Chn) bt Sybillie Bammer (Aut) 6-2, 6-0; Young-Ja Choi (Kor) bt Rushmi Chakravarti 6-3, 7-6 (7-4); Maria Kondratieva (Rus) bt Urska Vesenjak (Slo) 6-4, 6-0; Eva Birnerova (Cze) bt Dominika Luzarova (Cze) 6-2, 6-1.
Doubles (semifinals): Eva Birnerova and Jana Hlackova (Cze) bt Shelley Stephens (Nzl) and Manisha Malhotra 6-1, 6-3; Young-Ja Choi and Eun-Ha Kim (Kor) bt Sai Jayalakshmy and Rushmi Chakravarti 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.
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