Celine downs Anna for ITF title

Pune: Pune: In what turned out to be a battle of nerves and fitness, French girl Celine Cattaneo outlasted Ukraine’s Anna Shkudun to win the singles title at the NECC-ITF $25,000 ITF women’s event at the Deccan Gymkhana on Saturday evening.

In a final lasting just under two-and-half hours, sixth seed Cattaneo came back from being a set down to win 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 to win her first $25,000 title of the year. Cattaneo, 29, got 50 ranking points for her effort, as well as $2,900.

In a well contested match where long rallies was a regular feature, Shukudun started from where she had left of in her 1-6, 6-0, 6-0 win over Melis Sezer in the semi-final on Friday.

The Ukrainian broke Cattaneo in the first and the third game to race to a 4-0 lead. The French girl did manage to hold her serve after that, but Shkudun just had too much firepower from her backhand side to clinch the set 6-2 in less than half hour.

"I know I lose the first set and then win the match. I don’t know why (laughs). But I fight on court," Cattaneo said after the match. "I won a title in Delhi, and now here. This country is special for me, I love it," she added.

"It was a very tough match, and a tough tournament overall for me. I like this city, India, and hopefully, next year I will be the winner here," Shkudun said.

Cattaneo changed her strategy at the start of the second set, started to play serve and volley, and came on to the net on every opportunity on her opponent’s serve as well. The move paid off immediately, as she broke Shkudun in the second game.

Cattaneo maintained the one break advantage to lead 5-2, before she failed to hold on to her serve while serving for the set at 5-3. Shkudun struggled a bit serving at 4-5, but after four deuces and a game lasting nearly 15 minutes, the 16-year-old held her serve to make it 5-5. She couldn’t repeat that act in her next service game though. Serving at 5-6, she served a double-fault, and Cattaneo played chip and charge successfully on a couple of points to get the decisive break and level the scores at one set all.

Shkudun, broken mentally, lost her serve again in the second game of the decider, and took a medical time out trailing 0-3. It didn’t change things much for the Ukrainian, as she was broken again in the fourth. Cattaneo dropped her serve once, at 4-0, but was quick to bounce back, by two of the next four games, and seal the title when Shkudun’s attempted passing shot couldn’t cross the net.

RESULTSSingles, Final: 6-Celine Cattaneo (Fra) bt 8-Anna Shkudun (Ukr) 2-6, 7-5, 6-3.