Local girl Rutuja Bhosale came from a set down to upset So-Ra Lee of Korea in the opening round of the $ 125,000 Sanjay Kakade Group Royal Indian Open WTA Challenger tournament here.
The 16-year-old, who was given a wildcard for her maiden appearance in a WTA event, beat So-Ra Lee 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 in a thrilling contest yesterday.
Rutuja took sometime to settle her nerves against an opponent ranked almost 300 places above her and in that period Lee ran away with the first set.
But at this juncture, Rutuja called in for a coach and the interaction changed the way she approached the match thereafter.
There was a nippiness in her movements and she was willing to play those extra shots in a rally to find an opening. Even then it looked like everything was lost when the Korean took a 4-2 lead in the second set.
But Rutuja fought back with a delectable drop shot and few rushes to the net to level scores and then claimed the set in the tie breaker.
The youngster raced to a 3-0 lead in the decider with two back-to-back breaks of Lee’s serve. The Korean then took a medical time out to get her right thigh strapped and that break in momentum cost Rutuja dearly.
Looking to win her maiden WTA match, Rutuja began to get edgy with every mistake and ended up making a lot more of them. Lee levelled the score at 3-3 with Rutuja gifting her points with a slew of unforced errors.
But the Indian wrested back the initiative in the ninth game by breaking Lee for the third time in the set and then served out the match to set up a second round clash with seventh seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.
Earlier, Junior National Champion Prarthana Thombare went down fighting against Chang Liu of China 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 after a two and half hour tussle.
However, Prerna Bhambri and Rishika Sunkara advanced to the quarterfinals of the women’s doubles event with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Shivika Burman and A Andrady.