19-year-old Al Habtoor champion targets Majors and climb up the WTA Rankings
Elsa Jacquemot, the new 2022 Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge champion departed with a promise to return for the defence of her crown next year.
“I will be back here. I want to be back here to defend my title and the points,” Jacquemot said as she left for the airport on Monday.
“This is the first time that I’ve been in Dubai and this place is definitely going to be one of my favourite spots in the future,” the 19-year-old French girl added.
Jacquemot secured the singles title with a hard-fought 7-5, 6-2 win in two hours against Polish opponent, Magdalena Frech, while the top-seeded pair of Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic – with 13 Grand Slam doubles among them – defeated Kateryna Bondarenko and Frech, 6-1, 6-3 in the doubles.
So far, only one player - Turkey’s Cagla Buyukakcay - has won both singles and doubles in the same year in the 25-year history of this tournament. Buyukakcay achieved this distinction in 2015 when she defeated Klara Koukalova of the Czech Republic in the singles and then teamed up with Greek Maria Sakkari to claim the doubles crown.
“My focus has always been on the singles. I don’t play too many doubles,” Jacquemot said after receiving the winner’s cheque of $15,239 (Dhs 55,650) and trophy from Sultan Ahmad Al Habtoor and Ahmad Al Habtoor in the presence of Khalaf Al Habtoor, Group Chairman, Al Habtoor Group, late on Sunday.
She made her WTA Tour main draw debut at the 2020 Lyon Open in the doubles draw partnering Estelle Cascino.
After this, she was awarded three successive wild card entries at Roland Garros. Jacquemot made first round exits in 2020 and 2021. But in 2020, seeded No.3, Jacquemot entered the girls singles competition and won the Roland Garros title.
Earlier this year, the 19-year-old got her first win at a Major when she defeated Heather Watson in their opening round match on the Philippe Chatrier Court.
“That’s simply such an awesome feeling to win before your own people,” she recalled.
The French girl also gets 150 WTA Ranking points for her efforts last week, while Frech will get 90 Ranking points. Although unseeded this week, the points earned were enough to see Jacquemot to a career high No. 143 when the fresh WTA Rankings were released on Monday.
This was also her first – and the biggest – title for the 2022 season. “It’s been an amazing week, and I wish I could replicate this sort of success every week. My next focus will be to get some rest for the body and then start preparing for the 2023 season with the Australian Open in mind,” she disclosed.
“The big dream, of course, will be to be the best I can. I would love to see myself in the top-10 or in the top-5 and along with this, winning some big titles, including the French Open to start with,” she added.