India’s Riya Bhatia produced an inspired come-from-behind performance to beat her countrywoman, Rutuja Bhosale and advance to the final of the Lagos Open today- her first ITF final in two years.
Bhatia, who’s bidding for a 3rd ITF title, dug very deep to claim a 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-5 victory in 3 hours and 8 minutes of relentless hitting.
After losing the first set, the 22-year-old Indian steadied impressively to stay with Bhosale, who hadn’t lost a set all week, and guide the second set to a tiebreaker, which she clinched to force a final set. Both women would trade breaks in the first four games of the deciding set, before Bhosale edged in front for a 5-2 lead.
With the finish line in sight, nerves began to take hold. A loose service game from Bhosale opened the door and Bhatia took advantage, claiming the next five games in a row to seal victory after over 3 hours on court.
Bhatia will now face Slovenia’s Nastja Kolar in Sunday’s final. Kolar, who’s aiming for a 2nd ITF title this year and 10th overall, defeated 2nd seed, Valeriya Strakhova, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 on Centre Court.
Elsewhere in the men’s field, 7th seed, Aldin Setkic, a winner here in 2015, outclassed 6th seed, Takanyi Garanganga, 6-2, 6-2 in 73 minutes to set up another men’s singles final showdown with 5th seed, Calvin Hemery, who beat Aziz Ouakaa in straight sets.
Hemery’s ability was never in doubt, and after a tight and tricky first set against the unseeded Tunisian, the Frenchman won going away, 7-6(3) 6-2 – his 9th consecutive match win in Lagos.
Will Hemery claim back-to-back titles on Sunday? Or will Setkic avenge last week’s defeat?