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It was only a matter of time before I won the title, says ITF Lagos winner Riya Bhatia

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It was only a matter of time before I won the title, says ITF Lagos winner Riya Bhatia

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SportsCafe Desk

10/27/2019

Indian tennis player Riya Bhatia, on her USD 25,000 ITF triumph in Lagos, asserted that it was only a matter of time before she won the title. The city of Lagos in Nigeria has turned out to be a special platform for launching Indian women’s tennis players to the next level, including Sania Mirza.

The city of Lagos in Nigeria has turned out to be a special platform for launching Indian women’s tennis to the next level. In 2004, Sania Mirza, who was yet to be 18, won back-to-back singles titles in USD 25,000 ITF events and a doubles title from two finals, over a fortnight. In January next year, Sania was living the dream while smacking winners against Serena Williams in the third round of the Australian Open. By the end of that year, she was in the fourth round of the US Open, trying to level with Maria Sharapova after beating Marion Bartoli.

Last year, Andhra Pradesh born Pranjala Yadlapalli won back-to-back USD 25,000 singles titles in Lagos. However, an injury slowed her down as she started progressing in the professional circuit. It is now Riya Bhatia, two-time National champion, who has stepped it up to win the title in Lagos last week and she was elated. 

“I was happy to win the tournament. I was trying to play my best,” said Riya, reported Sportstar, as she went straight back to the training base at the Impact Tennis Academy in Thailand, from Nigeria.

“It was only a matter of time,” asserted Riya, who was confident of winning the title as she had been reaching the quarterfinals and semifinals. She also acknowledged Stephen Koon and his team of coaches for helping her out with her game as she was gaining a “better idea” of what she needed to work on.

Riya, who had a good game, has struggled for long to render justice to her tall and strongly-built physique. She couldn't channelise her strength with a composed mind and she went on to reveal how training at her academy helped her to come back from four match points down to win against compatriot Rutuja Bhosale in the semi-finals.

“I didn’t really focus on the score at that time. Was just focussing on one point at a time. The way we are trained at the academy, we never really think about the score. We focus on how to play the points,” said Riya.

“It was only a matter of time,” asserted Riya, who was confident of winning the title as she had been reaching the quarterfinals and semifinals. She also acknowledged Stephen Koon and his team of coaches for helping her out with her game as she was gaining a “better idea” of what she needed to work on. 

She knows there will be plenty of chances for her to improve her world ranking of 520 as five back-to-back USD 25,000 ITF tournaments lined up at home: in Gwalior, Bhopal, Solapur, Pune, and Navi Mumbai, in November and December. Riya has been able to achieve clarity and her main focus is to stay fit.

“The goal is to stay fit, avoid injuries and keep competing. I have got to know my game better, and would like to work on rectifying all my errors so as to be ready for higher-level tournaments next year,” Riya observed.

22-year-old Riya, who is employed with Indian Oil, knows the importance of keeping her mind fresh by enjoying things other than tennis. “I like reading books, watching shows on Netflix and listening to music. When I am back home, I really like spending time with my family. We watch movies together, go to yoga, swimming sessions, and such stuff,” she concluded.

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