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HometennisZeel, Rashmikaa set up title clash

Zeel, Rashmikaa set up title clash

Zeel Desai staged a stirring comeback against third seed Rutuja Bhosale, while the clinical Rashmikaa Srivalli Bhamidipaty stunned second seed Lanlana Tararudee in the semifinals of the ITF Women’s World Tennis tour at Bowring Institute on Saturday.

The 24-year-old Zeel, who clinched the thriller 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, saved a match point and came battling back to enthrall the sizable crowd.

The first set was a hotly contested affair, with Rutuja first and then Zeel immediately breaking each other’s serves.

Rutuja soon found her mojo and began striking the ball better by injecting pace to her backhand shots. She clinched a double break and bagged the first set.

Akin to the first set, Zeel and Rutuja traded breaks off the opening games. Rutuja, still under antibiotics, drilled a fiery cross-court winner to break the monotony and hold serve.

Frequent gusts of wind made serving a challenging prospect, resulting in the next four service games being broken with relative ease.

The errors piled on from both sides, but so did the moments of quality. Each rally was hard-fought, and Zeel dug deep to win the second set in resilient fashion.

A refreshed Rutuja found another gear in the deciding set, racing to a 3-0 lead. With every hold, belief soared for a battling Rutuja.

With Rutuja serving for the match, Zeel kept her honest, staving off a match point and forcing deuce with a cracking forehand. Zeel went on to break that game, and reeled off consecutive winners to hold serve.

The tables turned, as a double fault from Rutuja put Zeel in the lead 6-5. Rutuja saved two match points herself, but a wide backhand handed Zeel a comeback victory.

“As soon as I saved that match point, I had the belief and intuition that I am going to turn things around and just kept going,” Zeel told DH after her win.

” Her double faults changed the momentum. I was trying to return her second serves really well and that puts pressure. She (Rutuja) should be proud of herself for playing through pain,” Zeel added.

On court three, Rashmikaa continued her barnstorming run against a hapless Lanlana. The National champion put Lanlana under pressure from the start and raced to a 4-1 lead in the first. Another break at 5-2 sawRashmikaaclinch the first-set.

Lanlana struggled to find her footing, conceding unforced errors off her backhand. Rashmikaa used the serve and volley to good effect, and also broke serve twice in the second set to pocket an impressive 6-2, 6-1 victory.

“I was mentally prepared for a challenge. From the start, I was dominant and she fell apart after that. My serves and forehand helped me today because I was able to construct points,” Rashmikaa said.

“My career has been on a high note since the Nationals. I have beaten some good players and every win is making me feel good about myself,” a beaming Rashmikaa added.

“Two Indians in the final is a great achievement. It is going to boost confidence and juniors will start working hard,” Rashmikaa signed off.

Results(All Indians unless mentioned; prefix denotes seeding):Women’s singles (Semifinals): RashmikaaShrivalli Bhamidipaty bt 2-Lanlana Tararudee (THA) 6-2, 6-1; Zeel Desai bt 3-Rutuja Bhosale 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Doubles (Final):Diletta Cherubini (ITA)/ Antonia Schmidt (GER) bt 4-Punnin Kovapitukted (THA)/ Anna Ureke 4-6, 7-5, 10-4.

(Published 25 November 2023, 17:43 IST)

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