India's Sanaa Bhambri staged a remarkable rally after dropping the first set to pull off an upset victory over higher-ranked Dutch girl Brenda Schultz-Mccarthy in the opening round qualifiers of the US $175,000 WTA Sunfeast Open tennis tournament in Kolkata on Saturday.
Brenda, a former world top ten player known for her lightning serves, went down 6-0, 3-6, 6-7 (7-9) to the Mumbai girl in a 99-minute duel at the Netaji Indoor stadium.
The Netherlands player, with seven singles and nine doubles WTA titles under her belt, started on a high note as she fired six aces to run away with the opening set in only 15 minutes. But the reverse served as a wake-up call to the Indian.
Bhambri, ranked 691 compared to her opponent's standing of 301 in the WTA list, upped the ante in the second set sending in delightful service returns to break Brenda in the third, seventh and ninth games to take the set and draw level.
Though Brenda broke back in the fourth, an indicator of Bhambri's upward performance graph was the fact that she won four back-to-back games from 2-3 down to clinch the set in half an hour.
The deciding third set went down to the wire, as Bhambri demolished her rival in the fourth, but was broken back in the seventh. The set finally rolled into the tie-break which the Indian won to show her fancied rival the door.
A jubilant Bhambri later said that she had no idea before the match that her opponent was once ranked into the top ten.
"When I saw her yesterday, I thought this tall girl may have a good serve. But now that I know that she was ranked so high at one time I must say it feels great," she said.
"The first set was over very fast. But then on I regrouped and broke her service in the fourth game, which I think was the turning point of the match," she said.
Bhambri said that she was looking forward to playing more such high-ranked players.
"With time, I should be able to beat a lot of these players," she added.
In other qualifying matches, India's Rushmi Chakraborty beat compatriot Sonal Phadke 6-4, 6-4, while Tara Iyer upset the higher ranked Isha Lakhani 6-4, 6-2 to march into the second round.
Ragini Vimal went down 1-6, 0-6 to Germany's Sabien Lisicki while Sandhya Nagraj got the better of Archana Venkatram 6-3, 6-2.