Gulbarga: Top seed Prerna Bhambri had to dig deep into her reserves to quell the challenge of 17-year-old Karman Kaur Thandi to enter the quarter-finals of the Gulbarga Open here on Wednesday.
The World No.476 had to raise the level of her game many notches at the $10,000 event to stay ahead of the Toronto-based World No.778 in the second round. Bhambri proved a notch better to prevail 6-3, 7-6(5).
The first set saw Thandi make a few unforced errors that allowed Bhambri to break her in the fourth game which was enough for her to claim the first set, holding onto her serves carefully.
The second set saw the rivals trade serves in the first two games and then began the struggle for supremacy. Aces were pounded, passing shots whizzed by and cross-court winners were hit with tenacity as Bhambri and Thandi looked for that one break, ensuring they held serves.
With each screaming themselves into focus, the set was pushed into the tie-breaker.
Here too the players traded the first two points and then held serves until Bhambri found herself on match point at 6-5. The top seed grabbed the opportunity to push Thandi to the left of the court with a crisp return of serve and then found the court open, hitting a forehand down-the-line winner to Thandi's right to clinch the tie.
"I knew her game and knew that I had to raise my game. She hits hard and loves to attack. I had to make those adjustments and it worked for me. It was a tough game. She is a good player. I had to play her game and began attacking and that worked," said the top seeded Bhambri.
Third seed Druthi Tatachar became the first casualty of the event when she went down tamely to Thai Tamachan Momkoonthod 2-6, 4-6.
Last week's finalist Riya Bhatia, seeded No.8, bowed out with a 4-6, 2-6 defeat to unseeded Sai Samhitha Chamarthi.