Dubai: Teenage qualifier Daria Snigur will take on Romanian Ana Bogdan in the final of the 22nd Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge that will conclude at the Habtoor Grand Beach Resort and Spa on Saturday.
Winner of the Wimbledon junior girls singles, Snigur packed off top seed and hot favourite Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 7-6 in an exciting match after former ITF Juniors World No. 2 Bogdan had fought back for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Belgium’s Greet Minnen.
The doubles final will be played at 1pm followed by the singles final between Snigur and Bogdan from 3pm onwards, on Saturday.
The 17-year-old Snigur, who made her way through the qualifying rounds, was shocked at making her biggest final of her career. “I am lost for words. But now that I am here I just want to play my best and see where I finish,” Snigur told Gulf News.
“It was not very easy out there as she [Mladenovic] is a tough and experienced player. It is an incredible feeling to get to my first-ever big final. I find it unbelievable, but I’ve got to allow it to sink in and enjoy this moment before coming tomorrow and doing what I do best.”
After taking the first set, Snigur was cruising at 5-1 in the second when Mladenovic started mixing up her game and slowing things down for the teenager. The Ukrainian failed to hold serve twice allowing her French opponent to crawl her way into the match. But, she finally held her nerve during a testy tie-breaker to win 8-6 and advance to her first big final.
“I don’t like to play slow,” Snigur admitted. “But after this semi-final I am convinced I can volley and alter the pace of my game.”
Likewise, Bogdan too had to dig in deep to also advance to her first $100,000 final. “I was expecting a tough fight against her [Minnen]. The key for me was to just stay patient,” the 27-year-old Bogdan said.
“At this moment I am not even thinking about tomorrow or who I have to play against. For sure, it is an incredible feeling to reach such a big final. For me, it’s a real big one and I want to make it count.”
Bogdan had a successful career as a junior player while reaching a career high of world No. 2 in the opening week of January 2009. She had to wait for a good nine years before enjoying her best season in tennis last year where she made the third round at the Australian Open, where she ironically upset 11th seed Mladenovic in straight sets in their first-round match.
“I am aiming for that sort of consistency,” Bogdan said. “The second part of 2019 has been good for me, and I will see where I can reach with this final on Saturday. I need to finish this week well.”
Ana Bogdan bt Greet Minnen 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
Daria Snigur bt Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 7-6