MUMBAI, India -- No.5 seed Luksika Kumkhum of Thailand claimed the biggest title of her career at the L&T Mumbai Open on Sunday, overcoming Russia’s Irina Khromacheva, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3, to triumph at the WTA 125K Series event.
World No.103 Kumkhum, who made the third round of this year's Australian Open for her career-best Grand Slam performance, eliminated top seed Zheng Saisai and resurgent Russian Margarita Gasparyan to reach her highest-level final in Mumbai on Saturday. She finished off her excellent run with a one-hour and 47-minute comeback victory over Khromacheva.
Kumkhum is projected to re-enter the Top 90 after her victory, just in time for the year-end WTA rankings on Monday. Kumkhum won 72 percent of her first-serve points and claimed 62 percent of points on Khromacheva's second service in the tilt. Khromacheva was denied a second WTA 125K Series title of the year-- the Russian won the Anning championship in May.
The left-handed Khromacheva used extreme height and depth on her groundstrokes to flummox Kumkhum in the opening set, and she broke the Thai player in the very first game of the match. Kumkhum had three break points in the following game to return the favor, but the Russian erased those chances to hold for 2-0.
After that juncture, Khromacheva was off to the races in that set. The Russian broke Kumkhum again for 4-1, and then took the Thai player’s service once more to close out the set, ending the opener with a backhand lob for a winner. Khromacheva went 9-for-9 on points when she got her first serve into play during the set.
Hard-hitting Kumkhum, however, had other ideas in the second set. The top-ranked player from Thailand began to attack the crafty shots of Khromacheva with greater efficiency, and powered her way to a double-break lead, eventually holding for 4-0 with an aggressive forehand crosscourt winner.
World No.165 Khromacheva held her next two service games, saving two set points at 5-1, but that would not be enough in the second set, as Kumkhum never faced a break point during that timeframe. 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, garnering 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 netcord, earning the grandest trophy of her career.
Russia did claim one title on Sunday in Mumbai, though, as 3rd-seeded compatriots Natela Dzalamidze and Veronika Kudermetova defeated 4th-seeded Bibiane Schoofs of the Netherlands and Czech Barbora Stefkova, 6-4, 7-6(4), to win the doubles title after one hour and 27 minutes of play.