Zeel Desai overcame an indifferent start to beat qualifier Sandeepti Singh Rao 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the final of the $15,000 ITF women’s tennis tournament at the Joygaon Academy on Sunday.
It was the second singles title in the professional circuit for the 23-year-old Zeel, who had won her first title in 2017 in Gwalior.
The way she got off to a flying start, the 19-year-old Sandeepti looked set for a fairy tale finish. But, it was not to be, as Sandeepti was unable to sustain her high quality mobility and sharp strokes after going up 2-0 in the decider. She lacked the intensity to execute her vibrant game.
To her credit, Zeel dropped her frustration caused by a demoralising first set, and played with purpose, and increasingly better as the match progressed, to fight on even terms.
Even though she had fought back with ease in the second set, Zeel looked to have preserved her best for the third set. She kept her composure after dropping serve early in the decider, to find her way to victory.
The fight was now left to Sandeepti who recovered from being down 3-5 in the third set, to break back. But at 30-30 in the tenth game, Zeel stroked better to emerge victorious.
It was rather an abrupt finish for Sandeepti, who had dramatically fought her way pas a string of better ranked players. She did not have the same urge to assert herself this day, after the two finalists had trained together in the morning for lack of an option, as the rest of the players had left for the next tournament in Gurugram.
It was only her third international tournament for Sandeepti. She won seven matches, but more than that, won everyone’s heart. For one who had lost in the first qualifying round last week, Sandeepti had indeed come a long way.
After the semifinal entry last week at the same venue, it was another strong performance for Zeel who earlier beat two Swedish and an Uzbek player, apart from her doubles partner Vaidehi Chaudhari.
The results (final): Zeel Desai bt Sandeepti Singh Rao 1-6, 6-1, 6-4.
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