Raipur: Top seed Rishika Sunkara of Vijayawada (Playing for Delhi) subdued a fighting Natasha Palha 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 in the final of the $10,000 ITF women’s tennis tournament and lifted the Gondwana Cup here on last Saturday.
It was her third singles final on the trot for the 22-year-old Rishika. Incidentally, it was her second singles title in the international circuit, with the earlier one having been won in Delhi in May 2012.
After having lost to Fatma Al Nabhani of Oman and four-time National champion Prerna Bhambri in the last two finals in Hyderabad and Lucknow respectively, the wiry Rishika was resolute about enhancing her title collection.
Incidentally, she has eight doubles titles, including four this season, and had lost the doubles final with Prerna on Friday.
It was Rishika who called the shots early on, when she led 3-1 in the second set after having served out the first set at love. However, the athletic Natasha, who had started well but had lost her way, stepped up her game to reel off six games on the trot.
The 21-year-old Natasha swept away with the second set, dropping only four points in five games.
In the decider, Natasha missed her chances as, after having broken Rishika’s serve in the first game, she missed six gamepoints and dropped her serve on the third breakpoint.
From then on, Rishika dictated the course of the match to eventually pull through in two hours and 51 minutes.
Interestingly, it was the fourth victory for Rishika over Natasha in as many meetings in the international circuit, from 2007, when the two had met in the junior circuit for the first time.
The 582nd ranked Natasha was sharp in converting her chances as she won seven of nine breakpoints, but Rishika did it better by breaking Natasha’s serve nine times after forcing 22 breakpoints.
The champion collected 12 WTA points and the runner-up, seven WTA points.
The results (final): Rishika Sunkara bt Natasha Palha 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.