India number three Pranjala Yadlapalli enters her maiden WTA main draw

Vastavam web: India number three Pranjala Yadlapalli qualified for the main draw of a WTA tennis event for the first time in her fledgling career here Sunday. Pranjala outclassed her Georgian opponent Oksana Kalashnikova in straight sets in the second and final qualifying round match of the USD 125,000 L&T Mumbai Open at the Cricket Club of India (CCI). The 19-year-old mass communications under-graduate from Hyderabad, seeded third in the qualifiers aided by her ranking of 280 on the WTA circuit, needed one hour and 15 minutes to carve out a 6-4 6-3 victory over Oksana, who is ranked a distant 9,999.

Last year, Pranjala lost to Ana Bogden, who would have got a direct entry into the main draw if she had not forgotten to send in her entry, in the first qualification round. The tournament proper will commence Tuesday after Monday’s rest day introduced at the last moment to avoid the matches clashing with the fourth cricket ODI between India and the West Indies to be played at the same venue – CCI. While Pranjala won, another Indian girl two-time national champion Mahak Jain – was beaten by Japan’s Hiroko Kuwata 6-3 6-4 and bowed out of the USD 125,000 event.

“I am playing really well now and trying to adapt to the opponent’s game. I have benefited from my three-month-old stint under Stephen Koon,” said Pranjala, who had beaten Swiss world No. 134, Conny Perrin, in both the ITF finals over the last two-three weeks. In Sunday’s match against the left-handed Oksana, Pranjala broke the 28-year-old Georgian rival’s serve twice in the first set and four times in the second to romp home.”Osaka was really solid and hitting the ball hard and making me work for points. I was trying to counter by hitting it hard and deep, besides making her move around the court,” said Pranjala about her victory. Meanwhile, the tournament was hit by the withdrawal of Israel’s Julia Glushko. Her place in the main draw will be taken by a lucky loser.