Celikbilek and Aksu seal Turkish clean sweep

22 May 2017
Turkey's Ayla Aksu (gold) attends the women's tennis medal ceremony
Turkey's Berfu Cengiz returns the ball to Turkey's Ayla Aksu during their women's tennis gold-medal match
Turkey's Altug Celikbilek returns the ball to Turkey's Yuksel Anil during their men's gold-medal match

Altug Celikbilek and Ayla Aksu clinched golds in the tennis singles finals in Baku on Monday as Turkey completed the tennis clean sweep at the fourth Islamic Solidarity Games.

Turkey were already assured golds in both singles finals, and Celikbilek and Yuksel Anil rounded off the tournament with an entertaining encounter on Centre Court at the Baku Tennis Academy.

Celikbilek needed plenty of perseverance against his compatriot, but he eventually wore his opponent down with consistent groundstrokes and a booming serve.

Celikbilek's delivery, which regularly topped the 200 km/h mark, was a constant weapon as he held serve throughout the opening set, and he forced the breakthrough at the crucial time in game 10 to take the set 6-4.

The second set was of a very different flavour as both players attacked the baseline and produced an array of drop shots, but Yuksel made his move with breaks in games three and five to move into a 4-1 lead.

Celikbilek, a double break behind, cut a forlorn figure as his game deteriorated, but he roused himself superbly to retrieve one break before he broke to love in game eight to tie at 4-4.

A routine hold followed for the 20-year-old, and he attacked the Yuksel serve incessantly in game 10 as he sensed his moment.

Three match points came and went, but Yuksel's serve finally wilted under pressure as Celikbilek claimed a 6-4, 6-4 victory in one hour and 23 minutes on his fourth match point before he pointed to the heavens in celebration.

A dejected Yuksel took silver, while bronze went to Qatar's Mubarak Zayid, who waltzed through the opening set 6-0 against Amine Ahouda before the Moroccan retired at 0-0 in the second.

Earlier on Monday, Ayla Aksu thrashed Berfu Cengiz in the women's final - another all-Turkish duel - just one day after the duo won doubles gold together.

Both players enjoyed superb semi-final victories on Sunday, but Aksu looked red hot as she broke her compatriot in the opening game with her forehand looking razor sharp.

But in a theme of the opening set, Cengiz broke back immediately before failing to hold her serve for her opening three service games as Aksu raced into a double-break advantage and a 5-1 lead.

The 17-year-old clawed one break back but her serve malfunctioned once again as Aksu broke in game nine to take the opener 6-3.

Cengiz, who beat the highly-fancied Uzbek Sabina Sharipova in the semi-finals, broke immediately at the start of the second set, but Aksu - three years older than her compatriot - powered ahead with some lethal returning as she compiled seven breaks of serve throughout the match to cap off a 6-3, 6-2 victory in just 50 minutes.

Cengiz gained silver, while bronze went to Sharipova after she cruised past Oman's Fatma Al Nabhani in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2.

Aksu and Celikbilek both finished with three golds after wins in the team and doubles events.

Turkey's six golds out of six at the Baku Tennis Academy saw them move to 71 overall.

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