Sunitha Rao, India's second-best woman tennis player, defeated higher ranked Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in straight sets to advance to the second round of the US $200,000 WTA DFS Classic tournament in Birmingham on Monday.
The US-based Indian, who is placed 100 rungs below Kvitova in the WTA charts, won the first round contest 7-6(6), 6-4 in little under two hours.
An erratic Rao, who committed five double-faults in the first set, saved four break-points and converted two to stretch the opening set to a tie-breaker. She then held her nerve in the deciding moments to pocket the set.
Rao wasted five break-points early in the second set but converted the sixth to break Kvitova and open a 2-1 lead. However, she dropped the next game to let go the advantage.
She then broke Kvitova in the seventh game and saved two break-points in the next to go up 5-3. Serving for the match, the Indian struggled with the first serve but closed the match by firing an ace.
Rao next faces wild card and home favourite Naomi Cavaday, who outplayed 14th seed American Jill Craybass 6-0, 6-4 in her opening round match.
Rao had defeated South African Chanelle Scheepers 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4) on Sunday to earn a berth in the main draw.