Peng wins Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge crown


Dubai: Two-time Grand Slam doubles champion Peng Shuai of China handed young Viktoria Kuzmova a lesson with a 6-3, 6-0 win to clinch the 21st Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge (AHTC) that concluded at the Habtoor Grand Beach Resort and Spa on Saturday.

Making her first visit to this tournament, Peng — who trains at the Carlos Rodriguez Academy in Beijing — was dominant in her triumph as she dictated her younger opponent from the start to win in just 67 minutes.

Khalaf Al Habtoor, Founder and Chairman of the Habtoor Group presented the trophies in the presence of Nasser Al Marzouqi, General Secretary of Tennis Emirates and Tournament Director Noura Al Badawi.

After an early exchange of breaks, the two were tied 2-2 and that is when the 32-year-old Chinese girl made her move pressuring her younger opponent while mixing up her game. She had a second crucial break in the eighth for a 5-3 cushion to then serve out the set 6-3.

The second set started off well with Peng getting an early break, but not without some stiff resistance from the 20-year-old Slovak. But once she had the break it was pretty much a one-sided affair as the 2013 Wimbledon and 2014 French Open doubles champion powered through 6-0 to win her first title in her maiden appearance in the 21-year history of this tournament.

“I think it was her experience that made the difference today,” Kuzmova told Gulf News.

“I did all I could. I tried as much as I could, but in the end she was simply better on court today. Things could have been different had I won the first game of the second set. But then this is tennis and I have to accept that she was a better player,” Kuzmova added.

Though unseeded as her second-seeded opponent, Peng was in total control of proceedings on court. “I thought she was nervous and despite those opening four games I think I had managed to break through her defences. I agree that anything could have happened at the beginning of the second set, but I would have found a way out there as well,” she said.

“I am tired, but very happy with this week more because I got some strong and competitive matches. I think this was the perfect preparation for me for the new season and I need to carry forward all the good work here on,” she added.

In the doubles final played earlier, the Russia duo of Alena Fomina and Valentina Ivakhnenko got the better of Reka-Luca Jani and Cornelia Lister 7-5, 6-2.


Doubles final: Alena Fomina/Valentina Ivakhnenko bt Reka-Luca Jani/Cornelia Lister 7-5, 6-2

Singles final: Peng Shuai bt Viktoria Kuzmova 6-3, 6-0

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