Top seed Zheng Saisai of China became the biggest casualty of the L&T Mumbai Open when she lost in the three sets to the wily fifth seed from Thailand, Luksika Khumkhum in the quarter-finals of the WTA $125K Series event, organized by MSLTA and CCI and played at the CCI courts, here, on Friday. Khumkhum won 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 to set up a semi-final clash with Russian Margarita Gasparyan, who had a fight on her hands before ending the fine run of Danka Kovinic of Montenegro 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-1.
In contrast, it was smooth sailing for second seed and last year’s runners-up Dalila Jakupovic of Slovenia, who outplayed Chinese Jia-Jing Lu 6-2, 6-3.
The smooth stroking Zheng was well on her way with a fluent 6-3 win in the first set but had not accounted for the doughty Thai player’s court craft. Struggling with her first serve and not able to generate any power or variation with the second, Zheng was soon under pressure in the second set as Khumkhum scored telling blows with her double-handed forehand short cross courts.
Khumkhum, who shared a 1-1 record with Zheng, her victory over the Chinese coming as recently as April, took the second set 6-4 to set up the decider, where she raced to a 5-1 lead with two breaks of serve. However, Khumkhum still had a fight on her hands as Zheng broke back twice to narrow the lead to 4-5, but the Thai kept her nerve when serving for the match to earn a second three-set, hard-fought victory in three days.
Zheng rued her missed chances in the second set and said, “The second set was pretty close. I missed a few points and she was more aggressive.
“I did not start the third set well. I picked up the pace in the end but it was not enough. I had a long season and it is difficult to play in this weather,” Zheng added.
Khumkhum, who came through three qualifying rounds and won two main draw rounds in the Australian Open this year, is a never-say-die player and took this win in her stride. “Sometimes you have nothing to lose and just have to find a way to win. When it’s a tough day, I don’t think about it and just keep playing.
I have played Saisai earlier this year and it was quite different that time,” she added.
Quarterfinal Report: Margarita . Gasparyan  (RUS) bt Danka. Kovinic (MNE) 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-1; Luksika. Kumkhum  (THA) bt Sai Sai . Zheng  (CHN) 3-6 6-4 6-4; Dalila. Jakupovic (SLO)  bt Jia Jing. Lu (CHN) 6-2, 6-3