National champion Niki Poonacha survived three match points to beat the country’s No.1 player Ramkumar Ramanathan 5-4 (6) to drive Bangalore Challengers into the final of the Centena Pro Tennis League at the RK Khanna Stadium here on Friday.
The high quality game was no surprise as Niki has been playing an excellent all-round game through the event, thanks mainly to his better fitness. Challengers maintained its supremacy as it won five of its six matches for a 27-16 triumph over Pro Veri Supersmashers.
Mohit Phogat and Mahika Khanna got the consolation victory for Supersmashers by beating Dilip Mohanty and Sai Samhitha 5-2 in the last rubber.
Ramkumar had the ability to turn things around, but could not pull his weight in doubles as well in partnership with Nitin Kumar Sinha, as Niki and Paras Dahiya combined well for a bright game.
Challengers was also well served by Aman Dahiya who won both his matches and Sai Samhitha who was equally efficient with her calm and calculated play.
The other semifinal between Team Radiant and Indian Aviators went down to the wire, but Radiant asserted itself by winning the decisive mixed doubles in the end through Prerna Bhambri and Arjun Uppal, who outplayed Swarandeep Singh and Diva Bhatia 5-0.
Sriram Balaji and Siddhant Banthia had kept Aviators in the fray by winning their singles matches against Saketh Myneni and Suraj Prabodh respectively. It was an anticlimax after Aviators had stayed close at 19-20 with Radiant before the last rubber.
It has been a splendid revival of fortunes for Radiant in the last two matches, and it will be interesting to see how it shapes against the might of the Challengers in the final which starts at 2 p.m. on Saturday.