Mumbai: India number two Karman Thandi made a tame exit from the L and T Mumbai Open as she lost in straight sets to top-seeded Chinese Saisai Zheng in the singles first round at the Cricket Club of India courts on Wednesday.
Karman started off brilliantly by taking a 2-0 lead, but then slumped badly as her Chinese opponent ranked far above her in the world reeled in ten games in a row when the India number two let her own game slip down by committing far too many errors.
Karman was beaten 6-2 6-4 in one hour and 17 minutes. She had lost at the same stage of the event last year too.
The tall Indian girl, back from a runner-up finish last week in China in a 25K ITF event, held her opening service game at love and then broke the top-seeded Zhangs serve at 15 to raise visions of some good contest which was not to be.
From 2-0, the 20-year-old Karman lost the next eight games in the opening set which she lost 6-2 without the Chinese woman, who has already earned close to 2.3 million USD in prize money, really being forced to do something extraordinary.
Karman, ranked 215, lost the opening set and then was hopelessly down 0-4 after conceding her serve twice when she picked up her game a bit and won her first game.
At 1-5, and 15-40 she looked down and out but then saved three match points to hold her serve and keep afloat.
Against the run of play the Indian broke Zhangs serve to narrow it to 3-5, held her own to make it 4-5 but then her comeback trail ended as the Chinese woman served out for the match at love.
The match showed the huge gap between the two women. Karman had lost to the Chinese woman in straight sets in the round of 16 earlier this year in Nanking.
Zhang had words of encouragement for the beaten Indian girl afterwards.
"Karman is strong and has a bright future. She should attack more," were the Chinese words about Karman.
"I missed a couple of short balls and finishing balls in the first set. I was getting better in the second set but it was too late. I couldn't find any momentum. I need to work on my fitness," said Karman after her first round loss.
Last year also she had lost in round one in the WTA event.
Fourth seeded Olga Danilovic, a 17-year-old from Serbia, went down in three sets against Montenegros Danka Kovinic in the first round.
Second seed and last years losing finalist, Dalila Jakupovic of Slovenia overpowered Russian opponent Veronika Kudermetova in straight sets to reach the second round.
1st round: 1-Saisai Zheng (CHN) bt Karman Thandi (IND) 6-2 6-4; Danka Kovinic (MNE) bt 4-Olga Danilovic (SRB) 4-6 7-5 6-0; 6-Margarita Gasparyan (RUS) bt Tereza Mrdeza (CRO) 6-3 6-2;
2nd round: Valentini Grammatikopoulou (GRE) bt Deniz Khazaniuk (ISR) 6-3 4-6 6-4; Dalila Jakupovic (SLO) bt Sabina Sharipova (UZB) 6-4 6-2; Irina Khromacheva (RUS) bt Urszula Radwanska (POL) 2-6 6-1 6-2.