DUBAI // Russian teenager Natalia Vikhlyantseva will take on former top-25 player Hsieh Su-wei in the final of the Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge at the Habtoor Grand Resort on Saturday, hoping to win her second ITF $100,000 (Dh367,000) title inside three months.
Vikhlyantseva, 19, brought Dutch qualifier Lesley Kerkhove’s dream run to an end with a 6-1, 7-6 (7/5) win in the first of the two semi-finals on Friday, while Hsieh, who had climbed to a career-best No 23 in the WTA rankings in 2013, fought back to down another former top-25, Germany’s Mona Barthel, 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the other semi-final. Hsieh fought all the way back from down a set and 5-2 in the second set.
Winner of the ITF $100,000 tournament in Saint Petersburg in September, where she defeated Donna Vekic in the final, Vikhlyantseva has made a rapid rise up the rankings, climbing from her mid-April No 280 to No 148. Winning the Al Habtoor title will help her gain 150 crucial ranking points as well.
Hsieh, of course, will be equally determined to get those 150 points as she charts her comeback after spending most of 2016 on the sideline due to injuries.
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