Sunfeast Open: Tamarine upsets sixth seed Kanepi
Kolkata, Sep 18: Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand caused the first major upset of the Sunfeast Open by ousting sixth seed Kaia Kanepi of Estonia in a marathon battle Monday.
Unseeded Tamarine, ranked 124th in the world, registered a 6-7 (10-12), 7-5, 6-0 win in three hours and two minutes over the much taller world No. 72 at the Centre Court of the Netaji Indoor Stadium.
In the other match held simultaneously on Court No. 1, Israel's Tzipora Obziler marched into the second round by brushing aside Yulia Beygelzimer of Ukraine 6-2, 6-3.
Tamarine used all her resources and saved as many as six match points in the second set to create the upset.
Tamarine's win will pit her against the winner of the match between Abigail Spears of the US and Uzbekistan 's Akgul Amanmuradova in Round II.
The 29-year-old had an identical singles' win-loss record (20-20) going into this match and had not met Kanepi before.
Both players started on a clumsy note, with the tennis never reaching the heights it should when a former world No. 19 -- Tamarine reached her career-high on May 13, 2002 -- and a Grand Slam third rounder -- Kanepi made it to the third round of this year's US Open - are playing.
It was a bit of a struggle out in the middle in the first set with Kanepi and Tamarine trading breaks from the first game. The battle was restricted to the baseline though, with both showing a marked reluctance to come up to the net.
In the fourth game of the first set, Tamarine was down three break points. With perseverance typical of the unassuming Thai, she saved each of them, eventually holding to draw level at 2-2.
At the other end of the spectrum, failure to finish off the advantage ultimately proved to be the Estonian's bane.
The world No. 72, who was relying mainly on her big serves to move out of trouble, broke back down 5-6 to set up a scintillating tiebreak that seemed to carry on for ages.
Her big serve came handy again - she sent down five aces to Tamarine's nought in first set -- as she clinched the tiebreak 12-10. The first set lasted one hour and 14 minutes.
Kanepi, who reached the semifinals in the first edition of this championship last year, looked the favourite at this stage.
Breaking Tamarine in the ninth game of the second set to go up 5-4, the Estonian, who turned pro in 2000, looked set to finish off the match. It was here that the wheel of fortune turned.
An astonishing comeback from Tamarine, who has a lone singles and five doubles Women's Tennis Association titles to her credit, saw her save six match points in the crucial 10th game that ran into deuce nine times.
After the match the Estonian said: "I was very confused in the first set. I was also nervous. The pressure of doing well last time was obviously there. The pull in the thigh muscle did not help the cause either."
Even Tamarine's future would look good if it unfolds according to the script.
"I am taking one match at a time, not setting too high goals for myself. I am hoping to break (back) into the top 100 by year end," the 29-year-old veteran said.
In the other match, Obziler had a cakewalk against Yulia.
She went four-love ahead in the first set before Yuliana Beyglzimer won back two in a row.
However, Obziler stemmed the rot by breaking her back in the seventh game and then sealing the set on her serve.
In the second set, Yulia went three love ahead, before Obziler restored parity and went on to finish the match winning six games in a row.
Obziler's amazing array of ground strokes and the fitness, obviously earned from her cadet days, showed.
"Tammy" Tamarine Tanasugarn "June" Nudnida Luangnam "Eve" Nicha Lertpitaksinchai