Monday, Nov 24, 2014

Somdev gets a shot at summit

Express News Service | New Delhi | Posted: February 23, 2014 2:25 am

Somdev Devvarman made the final of the USD 100,000 Delhi Challenger on the back of an unexpected straight-set win over Russian Evgeny Donsky, ranked 114th in the world.

Devvarman had gone down to Donsky during the Kolkata Challenger last week, so it was interesting to see if the Indian would come up with a different approach on the slower center court of the RK Khanna tennis stadium. Devvarman had a rather up-and-down first round game against compatriot Karunuday Singh, but since then, had appeared rather solid. Still, he slipped to a 3-0 deficit in the first set of the semifinal, raising spectres of another defeat at the hand of the Russian.

Devvarman though, found his groove soon after. The pace of the court was to his liking and he soon got his familiar retrieval style of play in. The Indian got as many balls as he could into play, challenging Donskoy to hit a clean winner, or to maintain a level of domination in the rally with a sufficiently potent hit. At the Challenger level, such levels of domination are difficult to maintain and as soon as Donskoy hit a ball that was either long (in which case the point would end instantly) or too short, Devvarman capitalised with an angled winner. On the back of this rebuttal, Devvarman ran up four games in a row, to go 4-3 up in the first set.

Devvarman concentrated on moving Donskoy about, making him hit one more  shot than he would have liked to, a strategy that pays big dividents at the Challenger level. Donskoy often hit his purpoted winner into the net or wide under not too much pressure as Devvarman did not allow the Russian the joy of hitting too many outright winners. Though Donskoy struck a clean forehand, Devvarman often managed to cling on, and it was the Russian who erred first. Devvarman would go on to win 12 of the next 15 games, though both participants could not really exert too much influence on their serves.

Devvarman claimed the first set 6-4 and broke Donskoy in the very first game of the next. Donskoy broke him in the next and the two semifinalists held serve as the second set was on an even keel at 2-2. Again, Devvarman stepped up, winning four games in a row, mainly because he did not commit too many unforced errors. The match was Somdev’s, as Donskoy committed too many unforced errors, as he had done through the match.

Myneni, Singh triumph

Saket Myneni and Sanam Singh picked up their second successive Challenger title as they beat the Ratiwatana twins 7-6(5), 6-4 in the doubles final. Myneni and Singh had also triumphed in the Kolkata Challenger. The former is likely to break into the top 200 with the result in Chennai.

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