Friday, December 8, 2023

Ankita squanders chance, Czech teen Brenda wins Bangalore ITF title

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India’s Ankita Raina squandered a 6-0, 3-0 lead and a big opportunity to bag a first singles title since 2020 as 15-year-old Brenda Fruhvirtova turned it around spectacularly to win the ITF $40,000 Women’s Open tournament in Bengaluru on Sunday.

Blown away in the first set, the top seed from Czech Republic came into her own in the middle of the second to reel off 12 of the last 13 games, taking the final 0-6, 6-4, 6-0 from the fourth seeded Raina’s grasp.

“I didn’t feel good about anything in the first set and it was like I was fighting myself. But once I won the second set, things became easier,” Fruhvirtova said.

Playing for the first time in India, the fast-rising teen, world No 163, won her first ITF title of this season on the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association lawns after capturing eight of them in singles last year.

For Raina, the India No 1 who is expected to rise from 241 to 223 with the runners-up finish, it was still a positive week after her physical struggles of 2022 that led to her rankings drop.

The 30-year-old was twice down with Covid-19 last year, with the second symptomatic infection hampering her physically on court and also forcing her to retire mid-match in May. Only towards the end of the season did she get back to her optimal physical shape and in August, she reached the final of the ITF $25K in Aldershot, England. Raina is yet to win a singles title since her twin triumphs in 2020, the last having come at the ITF Jodhpur in February that year.

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