Luksika Kumkhum reached the final of the US$75,000 Dunlop World Challenge Tennis Tournament in Toyota city yesterday. Irrespective of the outcome in the final, the Thai will climb into the world top 100 for the first time next week when the new WTA rankin
The Thai No 1, who is currently at 107th in the world, came back from an early break in both sets to beat 16-year-old Belinda Bencic 6-4 6-4 in the semi-finals yesterday. Her impressive performance in Toyota means that she may reach as high as No 94.
The 20-year-old Luksika will become only the second Thai woman in the history to reach the world top 100, after Tamarine Tanasugarn who achieved the feat in 1996 when she reached the WTA Pattaya Open final.
“It’s been my goal since the start of the year to reach the top 100.
I’m happy that I will be fulfilling my target before the end of the season,” said Luksika, who conceded she has a lot of work to do early next year including defending her points in the Australian Open where she reached the second round.
“Now that I have already reached my short-term goal, I have to move on to the next step and that is to keep doing better and better. I have many points to defend next year. In fact, I have to do even better in order to improve my rankings,” said Luksika who brought some good news for Thai tennis, which has been on the decline.
With Paradorn Srichaphan retired and Danai Udomchoke and Tamarine moving towards the end of their career, Thai tennis is falling fast off the world stage. Worse news came recently when Thailand lost its only ATP event to China. But the rise of Luksika is some compensation for fans.
“It’s a shame that we won’t have the ATP Thailand Open anymore. I’m sure fans of all ages would love to go and see top players in action. It’s a pity that young players cannot go and see and learn something from these top players,” said Luksika.
The Thai will play Hiroko Kuwata of Japan in the final today. The Japanese ousted Thai No 2 Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, who soldiered on despite suffering a left ankle injury, 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 6-3.
“Too bad I couldn’t see how my rival played as I had to take a shower, do an interview and meet my trainer after my match. I just have to go out there and play my own game,” Luksika said.