India's Riya Bhatia wins ITF title in Nigeria

A former national grass court and hard court champion, Riya Bhatia, ranked 516, won the ITF tournament final in Nigeria in three sets.

Riya Bhatia (in picture) has won her third singles title in the professional circuit.   -  The Hindu

Riya Bhatia beat Nastja Kolar of Slovenia 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 in the final of the $25,000 ITF women’s tennis tournament in Lagos, Nigeria, on Monday.

Except for losing her way in the second set, it was a dominant performance by the 22-year-old Riya, ranked 516, against the Slovenian, who had reached a career-best rank of 178 in singles and 140 in doubles.

Riya led 5-3 in the first set, in which she struggled with nine double faults, and led 5-2 in the decider, before closing it out in style with her only ace in the match, on match point. Riya converted all the four breakpoints that she forced, and saved 12 of 16 break points that she faced. Both the players won an identical 86 points each in the match.

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It may be recalled that Riya had earlier won the semifinal against Rutuja Bhosale by saving four match points after being down 2-5 in the decider. The final was postponed to Monday due to rain.

Coming after the semifinal the previous week at the same venue, it was a tremendous boost for Riya, who took her record against Kolar to 2-1. She had lost rather tamely to the Slovenian on grass in Muzaffar Nagar last November.

It was the third singles title in the professional circuit for Riya, who had won her last two titles in 2016 and 2017.

The former national grass court and hard court champion, Riya has also won three doubles titles in the international circuit. All her professional titles have come abroad.

Riya did not play doubles this fortnight in Nigeria, but had won a doubles title in August in Chinese Taipei.