Zail Desai overcame an indifferent start to defeat qualifier Sandipati Singh Rao 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the final of the $15,000 ITF women’s tennis tournament at Joygaon Academy on Sunday.
It was the second singles title on the professional circuit for the 23-year-old Zale, who won his first title in 2017 in Gwalior.
The way she got off to a flying start, 19-year-old Sandeepti looks set to end the fairytale. But, it was not to be, as Sandipati failed to maintain her high-quality movement and quick strokes after going 2-0 up in the decider. He lacked the intensity to execute his dynamic game.
To his credit, Zell let go of his frustrations over the discouraging first set, and played even better as the match progressed to fight on even terms.
Although he battled through the second set with ease, Zell was at his best for the third set. He kept his composure after dropping serve early in the decider to find a way to victory.
The match was now left to Sandipati who was out to make a comeback after going down 3-5 in the third set. But at 30-30 in the tenth game, Zell hit a better stroke to claim victory.
It was a sudden end for Sandipati, who competed against better-ranked players in dramatic fashion. There was not so much desire to prove themselves on the day, when the two finalists trained together in the morning because there was no option, as the rest of the players left for the next tournament in Gurugram.
This was only the third international tournament for Sandipati. He won seven matches but more than that he won everyone’s heart. For one who lost in the first qualifying round last week, Sandeepti has indeed come a long way.
After advancing to the semi-finals at the same venue last week, it was another strong performance for Zell, who had earlier beaten two Swedes and an Uzbek player in addition to her doubles partner Vedihi Chaudhary.
Results (Final): Zail Desai bt Sandipati Singh Rao 1-6, 6-1, 6-4.