(Eds: Adds second semi final results)
Mumbai, Nov 25 Unseeded Dalila Jakupovic of Slovenia set herself up in line for a double crown in the USD 125,000 L&T Mumbai Open by rallying from a set down to overcome her higher-ranked Uzbekistan opponent Sabina Sharipova here today.
The 26-year-old Jakupovic, who entered the doubles final with her Russian partner Irina Khromacheva last evening, quelled a strong challenge from her younger and higher-ranked Uzbek rival to chalk out a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory in 1 hour and 41 minutes in the WTA event at the Cricket Club of India.
The Slovenian player, who has entered her maiden WTA final, will meet 19-year-old top seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in the final tomorrow for the top prize of USD 20,000.
Sabalenka, at 96, the lone top-100 entry in the event, outclassed France's Amandine Hesse, ranked 265, 6-2, 6-3 in just over an hour in the second semi final.
Jakupovic, ranked 252, dropped the first set after taking an early 2-0 lead as she was broken in successive games which helped her 23-year-old rival from Tashkent, ranked 186, take a 4-2 lead from where Sharipova surged to the set 6-3 in half an hour.
Jakupovic, who had not reached beyond the second round of a WTA event before reaching here, bounced back brilliantly to break her rival in the fifth game of the second set that she later clinched 6-3 in 31 minutes leading to the decider.
Sharipova, who had reached her second WTA event quarter final after upsetting third seed Yanina Wickmayer yesterday in the round of 16, had a golden chance to take early control of the third set, but frittered away three break-points in the sixth game that Jakupovic finally won after the third deuce call.
Encouraged by this escape, Jakupovic attacked her rival's serve in the next game forcing Sharipova to commit errors and broke the Uzbek's serve with a lovely drop shot followed by a double-fault by Sharipova.
The Slovenian player then held serve at 15 for a 5-3 lead and then put Sharipova’s service under press again to prise out errors from the Uzbek’s racquet.
Sharipova netted a forehand to be a match-point down, saved it but double-faulted to face the second match-point and dropped the serve and the match when she hit a forehand wide.
"I tried out a lot of drop shots in the beginning but it did not work out, probably because I was down and I was also a bit negative. But later I started playing without thinking about the result and that’s why I won,” said Jakupovic after entering her maiden WTA final.
"I am basically a singles player but this year has been good in the doubles. It has helped me improve my volleying," added Jakupovic, coached by her father Senad who has accompanied her here.
In the doubles semi final, the second-seeded pair of Jakupovic and Khromacheva got the better of fourth seeds Julia Glushko of Israel and Priscilla Hon of Australia 6-3, 6-2.
Jakupovic and Khromacheva will meet Victoria Rodrigues of Mexico and Bibiane Schoofs of the Netherlands in the final tomorrow which is to be played after the singles final.
Singles: Dalila Jakupovic (SLO) bt Sabina Sharipova (UZB) 3-6, 6-3, 6-3; 1-Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) bt Amandine Hesse (FRA) 6-2, 6-3.
Doubles: 2-Dalila Jakupovic (SLO)/Irina Khromacheva (RUS) bt 4-Julia Glushko (ISR)/Priscilla Hon (AUS) 6-3, 6-2; Victoria Rodrigues (MEX)/ Bibiane Schoofs (NED) bt Beatrice Gumulya (INA)/Ana Veselinovic (MNE) 7-6(2), 6-4.