Pune: On a day when both the singles semi-finals stretched into the deciding set, French girl Celine Cattaneo set up a title clash with Ukraine’s Anna Shkudun at the NECC-ITF $25,000 women’s tennis tournament at Deccan Gymkhana on Friday.
France’s 29-year-old Cattaneo seeded No. 6 upstaged top seed Varatchaya Wongteanchai 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, while 16-year-old Anna Shkudun staged a dramatic turnaround to beat Turkey’s Melis Sezer 1-6, 6-0, 6-0.
Both Cattaneo and Shkudun won their respective matches after losing the first set, but the wins were as contrasting as they could possibly have been.
Cattaneo played a solid first set, often engaging in long rallies with Thai girl Wongteanchai, before dropping her serve in the crucial 10th game, serving at 4-5.
But the French girl hit back immediately, breaking the top seed in the very first game of the second set. Cattaneo broke again in the fifth, to comfortably win the set 6-2, and force a decider. Cattaneo, seeded sixth, repeated her second set act, by breaking the top seed in the first and fifth game to lead 4-1.
Wongteanchai managed to pull one break back, in the sixth. But Cattaneo, known for her big serve, lived up to her reputation after that, and held her serve for the rest of the match, making the one break of serve she still had count.
The French girl won the two hour 14 minute battle to make it to her third final of the year, and her first of the year at a $25,000 event.
Eight-seeded Shkudun, a 16-year-old, looked a bit off in the first set, playing defensive tennis against unseeded Sezer. The Turkish girl was aggressive from the word go, and broke her eighth seeded opponent in the second and sixth game to ease through the first set. When Shkudun’s backhand landed wide to give the first set to Sezer 6-1, not many would have predicted that would be the last game the girl from Turkey would win in this match.
But in a complete turnaround of events, Shkudun broke Sezer in the first, third and fifth game of the second set. Injury to her both legs, for which Sezer took back to back medical time-outs at the end of the second set, didn’t help her cause either.
The third set was a complete one-way traffic, as Sezer had not only lost her touch and rhythm, but also the hope. Shkudun sealed the match with a stretched forehand volley winner, making it to her second final in three weeks, having won the ITF $10,000 title in Solapur two weeks back.
Singles, Semifinals: 6-Celine Cattaneo (Fra) bt 1-Varatchaya Wongteanchai (Tha) 4-6, 6-2, 6-4; 8-Anna Shkudun (Ukr) bt Melis Sezer (Tur) 1-6, 6-0, 6-0