Thai No 1 Luksika Kumkhum staged one of the biggest upsets of her career as she stunned world No 19 Elena Vesnina or Russia with a 6-3 6-4 first round win in the US$500,000 Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open on Tuesday.
Ranked just 130 in the world the 24-year-old from Chanthaburi dominated play with her fierce double-fisted groundstrokes to knock out the tournament’s fifth seed in only 69 minutes.
This is her second biggest win over high ranked opponent after she toppled former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, then a top 10 player, 6-2 1-6 6-4 in the opening round of the Australian Open in 2014.
"I'm so happy to beat world No 19 player. I just played my game and she missed so many shots," said Luksika who also reached the doubles quarter-finals with Peangtarn Plipuech.
In the first set Luksika used her flat penetrating shots to keep the Russian off rhythm and broke for a 4-2 lead. She allowed Vesnina one more service game to hold before she comfortably held hers in the eighth game to take the opening set after the Russian netted a forehand return.
The second set went pretty much the same with the Thai proving more solid in the baseline rallies. Luksika produced a couple of stunning short cross court winners to manage the only break of the set in the seventh game at 4-3 which was enough for her to move through.
In round two, she will face long-time rival Wang Qiang of China who never lost to the Thai in their latest four matches between 2014-2016.
"It will be my real test. Somehow she figured out how to play me. I have to be really patient," Luksika said.
The Thai has been in hot form recently, reaching the semi-final of the Korean Open where she lost to French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in three sets.