Sandeepti Singh Rao continued to fight hard and found a way to get past the champion of the last tournament Zeel Desai, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals of the $15,000 ITF women’s tennis tournament at the Tennis Project, Baliawas, on Saturday.
It will be an all-India final, as Vaidehi Chaudhari stopped a late resurgence of Fanny Ostlund of Sweden for a 6-0, 7-5 victory in the other semifinal. It looked a tricky affair as Fanny stroked strong after being down 1-4 in the second set, but she could not capitalise on four game points in the 11th game. Vaidehi overcame a bout of nerves to close out the match, for her second singles final in three tournaments in recent weeks.
The 19-year-old Sandeepti is a fighter to the core, and does not get swayed by the experience of her opponent or the score at any stage of the match.
After Zeel had got off to a splendid start with a high degree of concentration and confidence, Sandeepti turned the tide in her favour by racing to a 5-2 lead in the second set and closing it out at 6-4.
In the decider, it was Zeel who led 2-0 but Sandeepti moved with zeal and stroked with purpose to take a 5-3 lead. She failed to serve out the match in the ninth game, but broke Zeel’s serve to jump for joy. Sandeepti converted six of 13 breakpoints, while Zeel had won six of 14.
Having lost to Zeel after winning the first set in the final last week on clay, it was not only a swift revenge for Sandeepti, but another chance for a title in only her fourth tournament at this level.
Zeel was near flawless later in the afternoon as she partnered Punnin Kovapitukted of Thailand for the doubles title, beating Shrivalli Bhamidipaty and Vaidehi Chaudhari in quick time.
It was the fifth doubles title for Zeel, while it was the eighth for the Thai.
Singles (semifinals): Sandeepti Singh Rao bt Zeel Desai 3-6, 6-4, 6-4; Vaidehi Chaudhari bt Fanny Ostlund (Swe) 6-0, 7-5.
Doubles (final): Zeel Desai & Punnin Kovapitukted (Tha) bt Shrivalli Bhamidipaty & Vaidehi Chaudhari 6-2, 6-2.
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