Dubai: Top seed Jana Cepelova of Slovakia will meet wild-card Maria-Elena Camerin of Italy in the singles final of the 16th Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge at the Habtoor Grand Beach Resort and Spa on Saturday.
Cepelova battled past 16-year-old two-time junior Grand Slam winner Ana Konjuh in three tough sets to win 7-6 (3), 4-6, 7-6 (7) for nearly three hours, after Camerin had ground out an equally-entertaining 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 win over second seed Patricia Mayr-Achleitner of Germany.
Cepelova will meet Camerin in Saturday’s final at the Habtoor Grand Beach Resort and Spa at 2pm.
Camerin, who at 31, is among the oldest players in this competition this year, relished the challenge of playing in the afternoon heat. “Somehow it brings out the best in me. In the end I think my consistent serve made the difference,” Camerin told Gulf News after more than three hours on court.
This is the third time the Italian has played in the Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge and, going into this year’s singles competition as a wild-card entry, she had never advanced past the first round. However, she was the doubles winner here last year.
“Honestly, I did not expect to be in the final after two bad years here. But the good thing is that I am fit and such tough matches give me the opportunity to keep my fitness levels up and get ready for the new season,” the Italian added.
The second semi-final was equally entertaining with the top-seeded Cepelova edging the 16-year-old Konjuh in the tie-breaker 7-3. But the winner of the junior Australian Open and US Open came right back and took the second set 6-4.
In the deciding third set, Konjuh had an early break to go 4-2 up, but Cepelova broke back and held for 4-4 to eventually win a tough tie-break 9-7 and book her place in the final against Camerin.
Meanwhile, in the doubles final Vitalia Diatchenko and Olga Savchuk got the better of twin sisters Lyudmyla and Nadiya Kichenok with a 7-5, 6-1 win. Khalaf Al Habtoor, Chairman, Habtoor Group presented the winners and runners-up with their trophies.
Singles semi-finals: Maria-Elena Camerin bt Patricia Mayr-Achleitner 2-6, 6-4, 7-5; Jana Cepelova bt Ana Konjuh 7-6 (3), 4-6, 7-6 (7).
Doubles final: Elena Bogdan/Valeria Savinykh bt Lyudmyla Kichenok/Nadiya Kichenok 7-5, 6-1.