Turkey continue tennis domination with doubles golds

21 May 2017

Turkey are set for a tennis gold-medal clean sweep at the Islamic Solidarity Games after their men's and women's doubles teams both landed titles on Sunday.

Women's doubles pairing Ayla Aksu and Berfu Cengiz saw off Uzbek duo Sabina Sharipova and Polina Merenkova in a topsy-turvy encounter on Centre Court to grab gold at the Baku Tennis Academy.

Neither pair looked convincing on serve but it was the Turkish duo's aggressive baseline play that proved the difference in the opener.

The second set went back and forth with breaks of serve a frequent occurence, but it was Aksu and Cengiz who prevailed to win the title with a 6-3, 7-5 win.

The Uzbeks took silver, while bronze went to Malaysia after Jawairiah Noordin and Theiviya Selva-Rajoo beat Turkmenistan's Anastasiya Prenko and Jahan Bayramova in straight sets, 7-6 (7/0), 6-0.

Altug Celikbilek and Ilhan Sarp Agabigun matched their female compatriots to become Islamic Solidarity Games champions as they coasted to a straight-sets triumph over Uzbekistan's Amal Sultanbekov and Said-Alo Said-Karimov.

The Turks were in control throughout and broke serve twice in each set as they sealed a crushing 6-2, 6-2 win in under an hour.

The Moroccan duo, Ayoub Chakrouni and Amine Ahouda, claimed bronze after Malaysian pair Mohamed Merzuki and Ahmed Abdul Razak retired after game one of the third set.

Turkey are also guaranteed golds in the men's and women's singles draws after they won all four semi-finals on Sunday.

Prior to his doubles gold, Celikbilek had to battle hard against Morocco's Ahouda, but he edged home in three sets on Centre Court to seal his place in the men's singles final on Monday.

Celikbilek, who had not dropped a set on his way to the semis, broke in game four of the opener before taking it 6-3.

Ahouda took the second and broke immediately at the start of the third to give Celikbilek a fright, but the Turk recovered and provided the killer blow with another break in game six before he served out a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win.

He faces countryman Anil Yuksel in the gold-medal match after he powered past Qatar's Mubarak Zayid without dropping serve, 6-3, 6-2 on court one.

Women's doubles champions Aksu and Cengiz will go head-to-head for gold in the women's singles final on Monday after both progressed with straight-sets wins in their semi-finals.

Aksu struggled early on against Oman's Fatma Al Nabhani who broke to take a 3-0 first-set lead, but Aksu burst into life with three breaks of her own - crucially in game 11 as she took the opening set 7-5.

Al Nabhani, who had to take a medical time out, capitulated as 20-year-old Aksu broke three more times in the second set as she cruised to a 7-5, 6-1 win to book that final clash against compatriot Cengiz, who edged past Uzbekistan's Sabina Sharipova on court one, 6-4 7-6 (7-4).

Turkey are guaranteed to win all six tennis gold medals in Baku having previously won both men's and women's team titles.

© AFP Services

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