Al Habtoor Tennis: Jacquemot claims singles title

Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic won the doubles crown

By Team KT

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Frenchwoman Elsa Jacquemot (centre) with the trophy. — Supplied photo
Frenchwoman Elsa Jacquemot (centre) with the trophy. — Supplied photo

Published: Sun 11 Dec 2022, 11:26 PM

Unheralded teen Elsa Jacquemot made a winning Dubai debut, picking up the singles title, while the top-seeded pairing of Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic won the doubles crown as the 25th Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge concluded at the Habtoor Grand Resort on Sunday.

Making her first appearance in Dubai, 19-year-old Jacquemot picked up her biggest cheque with a hard-fought 7-5, 6-2 win in exactly two hours of sapping heat on centre court, while Babos and Mladenovic – with 13 Grand Slam doubles between them – ran off with the doubles with a 6-1, 6-3 win against Kateryna Bondarenko and Magdalena Frech.

The 24-year-old Frech had been on course towards a rare distinction of winning both the singles and doubles in a tournament that was first held before she was even born. But, that was not to be, as a much-younger and focused Jacquemot dug in deep and earn her biggest career pay cheque of $15,239 (Dh 55,650).

Only one player - Turkey’s Cagla Buyukakcay - has so far won both singles and doubles 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.

Sultan Ahmad Al Habtoor and Ahmad Al Habtoor presented the new singles champion and runner-up with trophies in the presence of Khalaf Al Habtoor, Group Chairman, Al Habtoor Group.

The first set was intense and tight with breaks from either side. But the most crucial one came in the 12th as Jacquemot nudged clear 7-5 in 81 minutes. In the second set, the French went clear early for a 2-0 cushion and never looked back after that as she finished the set and match for the biggest cheque of her young career.

“I believed I could win this one. I am happy to have spent an incredible week here and won the biggest title of my career so far,” Jacquemot said.

“This day will definitely be an important moment for me in my career. I have long-term goals and ambitions in tennis and the biggest would be winning the French Open one day,” she added.

Jacquemot had been awarded a wild card at the past three editions of Roland Garros. After two successive first round losses in 2020 and 2021, she advanced to the second round this year with a decisive win against Great Britain’s Heather Watson. “I am sure there will be many more such winning memorable moments in my career in the years to come,” she disclosed.

Frech was not too overwhelmed after going down to a younger, yet more compact opponent. “The match was intense, especially at the beginning of the first set. Eventually, I think it was just a few points that ultimately made all the difference,” third-seeded Frech admitted.

“This is the last final of the year for me and I am happy I could fight for this one title before I continue with my pre-season right here. Nothing much changes for me despite this loss. This has been one long season, and I am glad I can continue with my preparations for the 2023 Australian Open in this lovely weather,” she added.

Later in the evening, the top-seeded pairing of Babos and Mladenovic took exactly 65 minutes to sweep off 2006 singles champion Bondarenko and Frech 6-1, 6-3 for the doubles crown.

RESULTS

Singles: Elsa Jacquemot bt Magdalena Frech 7-5, 6-2.

Doubles: Timea Babos/Kristina Mladenovic bt Kateryna Bondarenko/Magdalena Frech 6-1, 6-3.


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