Pune, Dec 15: India's Rishika Sunkara was one point away from dispatching third seed Jia-Jing Lu of China in the quarter finals, but frittered two match points away and exited from the LIC-ITF Women's Tennis Championships today.
The Delhi girl had made a splendid rally from 0-4 in the deciding third set to hold a match-point at 5-4, 40-15, but was unable to deliver the knock-out blow and her Chinese rival escaped to a 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(5) win for a berth in semis.
Lu's come-from-behind victory came after a bitter contest against Rishika, ranked more than 350 places below her, that lasted 2 hours and 37 minutes at the MSLTA School of tennis at the Mhalunge Balewadi Sports Complex here. It also ended the Indian challenge in singles.
Lu, ranked 504, will meet impressive Serbian teenager Tamara Curovic in the semis. The latter got past top seed Sachie Ishizu (Japan) who forfeited the match when she went off the court mid-way when she trailed 0-2 in the third set.
The other semi final would be an all-Thai contest between Peangtarn Plipuech and Nicha Lertipitaksinchai.
Rishika, ranked 856, commenced her battle against her Chinese opponent on a very confident note, breaking her rival in the 9th game to take a 5-4 lead before holding her serve to win the opening set.
However, Lu came back strongly in the second set, moving to the net at every opportunity, to break her Indian rival in the 2nd and 4th games before easily taking the set 6-2 to level the scores.
Lu was on a purple patch and came up with drive volley winners to go up 4-0 in the third set and looked like wrapping up the set and the match before Rishika fought back.
Changing her strategy to a mix of aggression and defence, the Delhi girl went for some daring winners to clinch 5 games in a row and took a 5-4 lead by breaking Lu's serve in three successive games.
The tenacious Lu kept hanging and broke Rishika, who squandered two match points at 5-4, 40-15, in the 10th game to level scores at 5-5.
The Chinese survived another break point in the 11th game before the set went into the tie-break in which Lu played intelligently forcing Rishika into errors to capture it 7-5 for the set and the match.
The Indian presence ended in the doubles too as Serb Tamara and Anna Shkudun of Ukraine ousted giant killers Sharmada Balu of India and Celine Cattaneo of France 6-1 6-2 in the semi finals.
Singles (Quarterfinals): Tamara Curovic (SRB) bt Sachie Ishizu (JPN) Ώ] 5-7, 6-2, 2-0 Default; Jia-Jing Lu (CHN) bt Rishika Sunkara (IND) 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(5); Peangtarn Plipuech (THA) bt Ksenia Kirillova (Rus) 7-6(2), 6-1; Nicha Lertipitaksinchai (Tha)(2) bt Anja Prislan (Slo)(6) 6-1, 6-1.
Doubles (Semi finals): Tamara Curovic (SRB)/Anna Shkudun (UKR)Β] bt Sharmada Balu (IND)/Celine Cattaneo (FRA) 6-1,6-2; Jia Xiang Lu (CHN)/Jia-Jing Lu (CHN) bt Shu-Ying Hsieh (TPE)/ Hua-Chen Lee (TPE) 6-4, 6-4.