Mumbai, November 4: Fifth seed Luksika Khumkhum of Thailand had more gas in her tank, so to say, as she outhit and wore down unseeded Russian Irina Khromacheva 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 to lift her maiden WTA singles title in the final of the L&T Mumbai Open WTA $125K Series event, organized by MSLTA and CCI and played at the CCI courts, here, on Sunday.
Khromacheva, who had to play the doubles semi-final on Saturday after her singles victory, may have paid the price for playing two matches, as she was clearly struggling in the third set against Khumkhum, who looked relatively comfortable, playing her third three-set match in the tournament.
As has been the case, it was a slow start for the Thai player, who found herself a set down in less than half an hour. Khromacheva, hitting powerfully on both flanks, broke Kumkhum in the opening game, then the fifth game and the seventh game to run away with the set.
The wily Kumkhum got into her comeback mode in the second and began to attack the Russian with greater efficiency and accuracy. She soon powered herself to a two-break lead, and then holding for 4-0 with an aggressive double handed forehand crosscourt winner.
Khromacheva held her next two service games, saving two set points at 5-1, but that would not be enough. Kumkhum slammed a stunning ace down the T on her third set point to level the match at one set apiece.
Kumkhum kept up the momentum in the final set, while Khromacheva tried to slow the pace of the game, playing high balls. However, Kumkhum was equal to the task and got the first break of the decider with a forehand winner off a Khromacheva drop shot to lead 2-1. The Thai player then went up a second break for a 4-1 lead, after a service return dribbled over the net for an unreturnable shot on the second break point of the game.
Khromacheva got one break back to reach 4-2, but Kumkhum would stay firm from there, breaking Khromacheva on her second match point at 5-3 with a backhand winner off the net cord, earning the biggest victory of her career.
“I have played her in juniors and know her game well but I never expected her to play the high ball. She had a good opening sat but after that I decided to just go for my shots,” said Kumkhum after her first WTA win and added, “I am delighted and hope to make it two very soon.”
She also acknowledged that she was the fitter of the two players. “I have to run more since I have a double handed forehand, which is a shorter swing so I am always focusing more on my fitness.”
Kumkhum won $20,000 and 160 WTA points for her fine run, which should see her going up to around 80 in the world, while Khromacheva had to be content with $5500.
Earlier, Natela Dzalamidze and her partner Veronika Kudermetova of Russia, seeded third, won the doubles title with a 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory over the fourth-seeded pair of Bibiane Schoofs (Ned) and Barbora Stefkova.