New Delhi: India`s number one woman singles player Ankita Raina and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan inched closer to their first titles of the season after reaching the summit clash of their respective ITF events, today.
Playing in torrid humid conditions, top seed Ankita showed immense resilience to stay in the contest while her third seed Japanese opponent Miyabi Inoue wilted under searing heat and conceded the semifinal in Balikpapan, Indonesia.
Ankita was leading 4-6 6-3 5-0 when the Japanese girl suffered heat stroke and threw in the towel, sending the Indian in her first final of the season. Ankita will now fight it out with Chinese seventh seed Lin Zhu in the title clash of the USD 25,000 hard court tournament.
Meanwhile, in the USD 10,000 ITF Futures event in Tumon Guam, top seed Jeevan got the better of Japanese third seed Yuuya Kibi 6-1 5-7 7-5 in the semifinal.
Jeevan finds another Japanese in his first singles final of the season as second Takuto Niki prevailed 6-2 7-5 over compatriot Bumpei Sato in the other semifinal. In the Ankita-Miyabi match, the top seed paid the price for dropping her serve early as the Japanese kept the short lead with her to take away the first set.
The two players held serve initially and it was Ankita who got the first chance to get lead as she was up 2-1 and 40-15 but could not convert. At 3-2, Ankita required a medical timeout due to a troubling arm and kept her foucs on retrieving as many as balls as possible.
The ploy worked and soon she was up 5-2 and served out the set in the ninth game. Considering the humid conditions, the officials gave the two players a 10-minute break before starting the decider.
The Japanese failed to cope with the heat and caved in when Ankita was leading 5-0. "In the set break, when I went to change, I told myself I can`t let it happen again to myself. I have to go beyond this round. I want to play one more match and told myself to be confident and aggressive," Ankita said.