Updated: December 11, 2021 8:26:43 am
The Aryan Pumps Asian Junior Tennis Championship finals in Pune will see two Indians — Shruti Ahlawat and Saheb Sodhi — in action after they edged out their opponents in a power-packed semis on Friday.
While Ahlawat will take on Japan’s Sara Saito, the unseeded Saheb Sodhi will have his second run-in with fifth-seeded Max Batyutenko of Kazakhstan on the Deccan Gymkhana tennis courts. The first girl’s semi-final, winner of last week’s Under-18 Grade 3 tennis tournament, Saito defeated second-seeded Yu-Yun Li of Taipei 6-3, 6-4. In the second semi-final match, Ahlawat ousted sixth-seeded Hayu Kinoshita of Japan 6-4, 6-2 in a match that lasted for an hour and 22 minutes.
“From the first point, I felt the game was in my control, and while anxiety does seep in, I do not let it get the better of me. My focus was to do whatever I can. She (Hayu Kinoshita) was a good opponent, and her game style was unique. She is both an aggressive baseliner and counterpuncher,” said Ahlawat.
Ahlawat (15), who has had five ITF singles titles since her debut in the ITF circuit at the start of this year, said that she has been happy with her overall performance. She credited her coach Pundreek Chaturvedi for her wins. Talking about being in the finals with Saito, Ahlawat said, “I will give my best. I will do what I do every day and enjoy the game,”
Among the boys, the first semi-final had Max Batyutenko of Kazakhstan get the better of Chirag Duhan 6-3, 6-4. In the second semi-final, in what seemed like a battle of David vs Goliath, Sodhi overcame muscle cramps in his triceps to oust second-seeded Nishant Dabas 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) in an hour and 51 minutes.
“In the first set, my body was not supporting me that is why I could not play well, but then in the second set, I decided not to give up and then controlled the game from there onwards,” said Sodhi, who trains under Kedar Shah.
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