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Yan Chong, Melanie in final

By Nandakumar Marar

MUMBAI, APRIL 2. Yan Chong Chen, oozing raw power and wristy strokeplay, reduced fourth seed Montinee Tangpong to a bundle of nerves in the International Tennis Federation women's Futures singles semifinals. The muscular Chinese, using all strength at her disposal, took advantage of the Thailand girl's tentative play to score a 7-6 (7), 6-2 win for a place in the final of the $10,000 event at Shivaji Park Gymkhana.

Great Britain's Melanie South stands between her and the title. The unseeded Briton extended her form for one more day to overpower Chinese qualifier Shu Jing Yang 6-4, 0-6, 6-4 in the other semifinal. The latter made amends by clinching the women's doubles title in tandem with Yi Yu.

Tangpong remained the only seed in contention among the four semifinalists on court on Friday. A regular India traveller, the Thai was expected to handle the heat and windy conditions at SPG, where a crosscourt breeze made serving a hazard. She used a mean backhand to whip crosscourt volleys, probing Chen's footwork with low returns to the corners.

The unseeded Chinese scooped the ball back and hit back with a vengeance, the pace and punch in shots evident of strong shoulders and sweet timing. Three breaks in either sets was enough to leave Tangpong deflated, the Thai girl showing mood for a fight-back just once in the 94-minute semifinals when coming back from 3-5 to take the first set into the tie-breaker.

Melanie South may have slipped into sleep mode in the second set, losing six straights games in a row but did enough in the first and third to clinch a final place ahead of Yang, winning 6-4, 0-6, 6-4. The women's doubles final an all-Chinese affair, Yang teaming up with Ying Yu to win the title in straights sets.

The results: Singles: semifinals: Melanie South (GBr) bt Shu Jing Yang (Chi) 6-4, 0-6, 6-4; Yan Chong Chen (Chi) bt 4-Montinee Tangphong (Tha) 7-6 (9-7), 6-2.

Doubles: final: Shu Jing Yang/Ying Yu (Chn) bt Yan-Hua Dong/Jie Hao (Chn) 6-2, 6-2. Semifinals: Yang/Yu (Chn) bt Chia Jung Chuang (Tai)/Chin Bee Khoo (Mal) 6-1, 6-4; Dong/Hao (Chn) bt Wilawan Choptang (Thi)/Diana Julianto (Ina) 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-3.

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