Dubai: An experienced Sorana Cirstea overcame a young resolute Katerina Siniakova from the Czech Republic 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to become the latest champion of Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge during the 23rd edition that concluded at the Habtoor Grand Beach Resort and Spa on Saturday.
Ranked No. 86 on the WTA, the 30-year-old Romanian dug in deep when it mattered most while getting past her 24-year-old fifth-seeded opponent in a little more than two hours of fast-paced and entertaining tennis.
Shaikh Hasher Al Maktoum, President of UAE Tennis Federation (UAE TF) was joined by Khalaf Al Habtoor, Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group in presenting the winners and runners-up after the final.
“It’s been an absolute privilege to play tennis in such tough and testing times. It’s been a great week for me and hopefully I will be back to defend my title here next year,” Cirstea said.
The opening set could have gone either way with as Siniakova’s early break was levelled off by Cirstea in the eighth game. But the tricky Czech broke a second time to go clear 5-4 and then served off for the set in 41 minutes. Cirstea started off well in the second with an early break taking her 2-0 up. But Siniakova was right back by the fifth game only to be broken a second time for the Romanian to win the set 6-3 and force the deciding third.
After both players exchanged early breaks, Cirstea went clear with two quick breaks in the fifth and seventh, and even a fight back from her younger opponent didn’t bother the Romanian as she cruised home in two hours and eight minutes for the title.
Earlier, India’s Fed Cup hero Ankita Raina teamed up with Ekaterine Gorgodze of Georgia to get the better of Zadoinov Bolsova and Aliona Juvan 6-4, 3-6, 10-6 and pick up the doubles crown.
The very last pair to enter the doubles, Raina hailed her Georgian partner for her commitment and fighting spirit. “It’s been an unreal week. We were the last ones to enter the doubles, and here we are with the winners’ trophy in what I consider to be my home event,” Raina said.
Sorana Cirstea bt Katerina Siniakova 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
Doubles Ekaterine Gorgodze/Ankita Raina bt Zadoinov Bolsova/Aliona Juvan 6-4, 3-6, 10-6