Chennai Open: Enthralling Bautista-Paire semifinal on the cards

In a week full of surprising exits and inspiring wins, Roberta Bautista is the only player who has lived up to his billing, going into the semifinal of Chennai Open with a come-from-behind victory over veteran Russian Mikhail Youzhny.

Numerical advantage? Roberto Bautista Agut has won the previous five meetings with Benoit Paire, with three of those victories coming in Grand Slam tournaments.   -  r. ragu

In a week full of surprising exits and inspiring wins, Roberto Bautista Agut is the only player who has lived up to his billing, going into the semifinal of Chennai Open with a come-from-behind victory over veteran Russian Mikhail Youzhny. It wasn’t an easy quarterfinal encounter, but he pulled along and survived.

With the win, the Spaniard set up a semifinal clash against France’s Benoit Paire, who thrashed 2015 finalist Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-0 in a one-sided contest. It is a repeat of the 2013 Chennai Open semifinal where Bautista Agut triumphed to reach his first ever ATP Tour final.

In a skewed statistics for Benoit Paire, the Frenchman has never managed to beat the Spaniard Agut in the five previous attempts, with three of those losses coming in Grand Slam tournaments.

But a vastly improved Benoit Paire, who has had a smooth run in the tournament so far with clinical wins over Konstantin Kravchuk, Yuki Bhambri and Aljaz Bedene, has it in him to set that record straight in Saturday's last four clash against an edgy and persistent Agut.

In Dudi Sela and Daniil Medvedev, we have two surprise semifinalists vying for a spot in the summit clash. Dudi Sela entered the semifinal after stunning third seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-5, 6-4 in a Centre Court clash on Friday and will look to continue his form Russian Daniil Medvedev.

While the 31-year-old Dudi Sela of Israel has entered an ATP Tour semifinal after a period of seven years, NextGen star and 20-year-old Daniil Medvedev will be playing his first ever last-four clash. Neither has won an ATP World Tour title till date and a hunger for the elusive win may keep the two pushing each other to their limits.

While the Indian challenge ended meekly in singles, Divij Sharan and Purav Raja kept the flag flying by making the final with victory over Andres Molteni and Guillermo Duran on Friday. The fans will be rooting for an all-Indian final as Rohan Bopanna and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan take on Nicholas Monroe (US) and Artem Sitak (NZ) in the doubles semifinal on Saturday.

Order of play:

Centre court (5 p.m. start): Singles: Daniil Medvedev (Rus) vs Dudi Sela (Isr); Benoit Paire (Fra) vs Roberto Bautista Agut (Esp);

Doubles: Rohan Bopanna & Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan vs Nicholas Monroe (USA) & Atrem Sitak (Nzl).