Oman's Fatma al Nabhani ended her five-month title drought on Friday when she along with her Filipino partner Marian Jade Capadocia clinched the women's doubles crown at the US$15,000 Bahrain ITF Futures Tennis Tournament.
The unseeded pair had a glorious run at the tournament as they accounted for the top three seeded pairs on their way to the crown. On Friday, up against the top-seeded team of Zimbabwe Valeria Bhunu and Britain's Emily Webley-Smith, Fatma and Marian came up with a stellar display to oust them in straight sets 7-5, 6-2.
Down 2-4 in the first set, Fatma and Marian fought back bravely to clinch the first set 7-5 and then raced to a 5-0 lead in the second before wrapping up the set and the title.
It was on October 15 last year that Fatma claimed her biggest singles title of her career when she won the crown in the US$15,000 ITF event in the Tunisian city of Hammamet.
Earlier last August, she had won an ITF doubles title in Spain's Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, teaming up with Spanish Arabela Fernandez Rabener.
Speaking to Muscat Daily after her doubles title, the first of 2018, on Saturday, Fatma said, “I am glad to have won the first title of the year in Bahrain. I love playing here as I get a lot of support. It just feels as if I am playing in Oman.”
The 26 year old Omani also credited her young partner Marian for her display. “She is a young and talented player and I have known her for past few years. We were not seeded so I was a bit worried as we would be facing the higher seeded teams.
“But we combined nicely to upset the top-three seeded pairs on our way to crown. It was great feeling to have achieved the title in style,” said Fatma.
Fatma and Marian had upset the second-seeded Indian pair of Kanika Vaidya and Zeel Desai
3-6, 7-5 [10-4] in the semis on Thursday. Valeria and Emily cruised past Rebecca Gustafson of Sweden and Varvara Kuznetsova of Russia 6-1, 6-2 in the other semifinal.
The Omani-Filipino duo had begun its campaign in style as it stunned the third-seeded team of Nastia Kolar of Slovenia and American Alexandra Riley 6-3, 6-3 to make it into the quarterfinals. They then combined well to breeze past the Indo-Croatian pair of Ashmitha Easwaramurthi and Tea Faber 6-3, 6-1.
Meanwhile, Fatma, who was seeded fifth in the singles, made her exit in the quarterfinals.
Slovakia's fourth-seeded Tereza Mihalikova defeated her 6-1, 6-4 after the Omani had recorded a hard-fought first-round win over Lithuanian Gerda Zykute 2-6, 6-2, 6-1. In the second-round, Fatma got the better of Romanian Maria Toma 6-1, 6-1 before bowing out.
This year, Fatma has already participated in six ITF and WTA tournaments besides representing Oman at the Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Group II.
She started 2018 competing in the US$60,000 Andrezieux-Boutheon tournament in France before taking part in US$25,000 Glasgow, UK. She was granted a wild card in WTA Qatar Open main draw but made a first round exit. She also lost in the first round of the qualifying event of the Dubai Open before travelling to Gwalior, India earlier this month for a US$25,000 event.
Fatma sounded confident of a good show in the upcoming ITF events as she bids to improve her rankings. Currently, she is ranked No 540 in singles and 601 in doubles. “I hope to make good results and improve my rankings,” she said.
By Ashok Purohit
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