Maiden title for Zeel

The Australian Open junior quarterfinalist, Zeel, 18, did miss a matchpoint and dropped serve in the 10th game of the second set, but scotched all hopes with a clinical performance in the climax.

Zeel Desai with her maiden ITF women's singles trophy in Gwalior.

Eighth-seed Zeel Desai beat wild card Mahak Jain 6-3, 7-5 to clinch her maiden ITF women’s title on Saturday.

The Australian Open junior quarterfinalist, Zeel, 18, did miss a matchpoint and dropped serve in the 10th game of the second set, but scotched all hopes with a clinical performance in the climax.

Having been beaten by the 14-year-old Mahak in the ITF grade-2 junior final after a whirlwind start in Delhi before the Australian Open, earlier this season, the tall Zeel, coached by Todd Clark, handled the challenge with due respect to her opponent.

After dropping a set each to Eetee Maheta and Ramya Natarajan in the first two rounds, Zeel had stepped it up to outplay the national hard and grass court champion Riya Bhatia in the quarterfinals. She had quelled the challenge of Swiss qualifier Lulu Radovcic in straight sets in the semifinals.

On the other hand, Mahak had got past top-seed Fatma Al Nabhani of Oman in the semifinals, after fighting past qualifier Bhuvana Kalva. She had cruised past Amrita Mukherjee and seventh seed Sri Vaishnavi Peddi Reddy in the earlier rounds in justifying her wild card.

It was a strong statement by Zeel and Mahak, ranked 31 and 55 in the world among the juniors, who will focus on the grade-1 junior tournaments in Asia, before they train their attention towards the professional women’s circuit.

The result (final):

Zeel Desai bt Mahak Jain 6-3, 7-5.

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