Dubai: Third seed Magdalena Frech will face fast-improving French girl Elsa Jacquemot in the final of the 25th Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge, on Sunday.
The 24-year-old Frech eased into the final without even breaking a sweat after her opponent Viktoria Kuzmova opted for a walkover after being down with fever and cold.
And in the second all-French semi-final, Carole Monnet retired while trailing Jacquemot 5-7, 1-4 due to a strained leg muscle.
A winner of the girls’ singles crown at the 2020 French Open, Jacquemot has shown a lot of promise during the past couple of seasons on the WTA Tour.
Handed a wild card at the past three editions of the French Open main draw, the 19-year-old eventually recorded her first major match win when she defeated Heather Watson in the first round, before losing to Angelique Kerber, earlier this year.
And it is the lower end tournaments that Jacquemot has shown a lot of promise. She started off the season with an appearance in the final at the ITF Spain in the first week of February where she lost in three sets to Andrea Lazaro Garcia.
Towards the end of the year, Jacquemot finished as losing semi-finalist at the ITF France where she went down to Swiss girl Celine Naef.
Such consistent performances helped the 19-year-old attain a career-high WTA rankings of No. 171 in the singles in June this year.
“It wasn’t all that easy even though I went through to the final. The first set was tough and close, and then I was cruising through the second set when she retired,” Jacquemot related.
“Playing a fellow French is never too easy. And today, the conditions weren’t all that suitable for play. But, considering everything I think I played well,” she added.
Now into the final, the 19-year-old French girl admitted that she has very little to lose heading into a confrontation with the third-seeded Frech.
“Tomorrow will be a different day altogether. This one is out of my mind, and the focus now will be to get prepared for the big battle of playing in a final. I have seen her [Frech] warm-up this morning, and that’s all that I have seen of her game,” Jacquemot admitted.
“I believe I have the game to win this tournament,” Jacquemot beamed.
“I am aware that she’s a good, all-round player. But I am here to do my best and win this trophy,” she added.
On a day of very little singles tennis action, it was up to the two doubles semi-finals to take centre-stage.
First it was the former world number one pairing of Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic making their way past the fourth-seeded duo of Alena Fomina-Klotz and Dalila Jakupovic 6-3, 6-3.
And then later in the evening, Kateryna Bondarenko and Magdalena Frech fought back to defeat the Dutch duo of Jasmijn Gimbrere and Bibiane Schoofs 4-6, 7-6 (4), 15-13.
Sunday will see the conclusion of the tournament with Frech playing Jacquemot in the singles at 1 pm followed by the doubles after suitable rest. Entry for spectators is free
(Singles semi-finals) Magdalena Frech bt Viktoria Kuzmova (walkover); Elsa Jacquemot bt Carole Monnet 7-5, 4-1 (retired).
(Doubles semi-finals) Timea Babos/Kristina Mladenovic bt Alena Fomina-Klotz/Dalila Jakupovic 6-3, 6-3; Kateryna Bondarenko/Magdalena Frech bt Jasmijn Gimbrere/Bibiane Schoofs 4-6, 7-6 (4), 15-13.