There may be no Indians left in the singles challenge of the > Chennai Open as it gets to the business end of the tournament, but Rohan Bopanna-Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Divij Sharan-Purav Raja more than made up for it by ensuring two Indian teams in the semifinals of the ATP Tour event.
For tennis aficionados, Friday offers some appetising quarterfinal encounters with the match between Briton Aljaz Bedene and Frenchman Benoit Paire at the Centre Court promising to a hotly fought battle.
Though Bedene is currently ranked World No. 101 after a below-par 2016, he has the calibre and the stamina to beat any top player in the world. It was evident in the match against Martin Klizan; he overcame a rough start to beat fourth seed Slovakian in an energy-sapping three-setter at Court 1 on Thursday. As the word spread about the close battle, fans flocked the outside court to get their dose of high-quality battle.
After the marathon match, Aljaz Bedene still looked fresh and charged enough to take on the next opponent and that doesn’t really bode well for the 47th ranked Frenchman who has trouble staying focussed for long periods of match.
Skill-wise, there is nothing to separate both the players though Paire is much more adept at pulling off showman shots to keep his opponent guessing. But what may work in Bedene’s favour is his perseverance. The two have one victory apiece in their previous ATP Tour encounters.
Agut v Youzhny
The other exciting match of the day is likely to be the battle between No. 2 seed Roberto Bautista Agut and seventh seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny. Both the players are coming into the quarterfinal on the back of easy wins over Rogerio Dutra Silva and Renzo Olivo respectively.
World No. 14 Agut, a 2013 finalist, goes into the encounter as the favourite, though the 2008 champion and veteran Russian can be quite a handful on his given day. Third seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas will take on surprise quarterfinalist Dudi Sela in the first match at Centre Court while 20-year-old Daniil Medvedev will face Cilic-conquerer Jozef Kovalik in the other quarterfinal.
Meanwhile, Divij Sharan and Purav Raja will be looking to make another upset as they face second seeded Argentinian pair of Guillermo Duran and Andres Molteni in the only doubles semifinal clash slotted for the day.
Order of Play
Centre Court ( From 5.05pm): Albert VInolas (Esp) v Dudi Slea (Isr), Benoit Paire (Fra) v Aljas Bedene (Gbr), Mikhail Youzhny (Rsu) v Roberto Bautista Agut (Esp).
Court 1 (From 5.00 pm): Jozef Kovalik (Svk) v Danil Medvedev (Rus), Purav Raja & Divij Sharan v Guillermo Duran & Andres Molteni (Arg).