Fenesta Nationals: Poonacha downs Dalwinder to set up final against Goveas

In the final, top seed Niki Pooncha will be challenged by the second seed Aryan Goveas, who put up a vibrant performance to tame the big game of Kunal Anand.

Aryan Goveas on way to the men's final in the National tennis championship in Delhi on Friday.   -  KAMESH SRINIVASAN

Top seed Niki Poonacha overcame a slow start to subdue the energetic Dalwinder Singh with a crafty performance in the men’s semifinals of the Fenesta National tennis championship at the DLTA Complex on Friday.

In the final, Niki, who has been training at the Rohan Bopanna Academy in Bengaluru, will be challenged by the second seed Aryan Goveas. The latter put up a vibrant performance to tame the big game of Kunal Anand with a 6-4, 6-2 score.

It was a dramatic turn around for Niki, who was constantly cheered by coach Sujith Sachidanand, even as the big Harvest Academy team backed Dalwinder vociferously.

Niki was hitting the tape or missing the lines in the first set, and a change of strategy worked wonders for him in the next two sets. In fact, Dalwinder was a break up in the second after winning the first, before Niki came to life with his explosive game for a 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory.

"I had played him twice earlier this year, and had won one match. I was a bit nervous in the end’’, said Niki, who missed three match points, including two with double faults.

Quite judiciously, the wiry Niki came up with a kick serve and followed that to the net, which saw Dalwinder, a champion in 2017, err with his return.

Aryan came up with a robust fare, to turn the tide in his favour in both the sets, after Kunal had taken a 3-1 lead in the first set and 2-0 lead in the second. He served big and hammered the winners at will.

"My backhand is getting better, that is an advantage. I had not trained for two weeks after retiring from my match in Cairo, with a shoulder strain. So, I was not that consistent in the earlier
matches’’, said Aryan, who has been getting better with every match.

In the women’s section, it was experience that had the final say, as top seed Sowjanya Bavisetti beat Vaidehi Chaudhary 6-3, 7-5 while four-time champion Prerna Bhambri outplayed Jagmeet Kaur for the loss of three games.

In the under-18 boys event, the diminutive Udit Gogoi fought past Rohan Mehra in straight sets. He will challenge the all-round game of Madhwin Kamath, who was able to sail past Mann Shah. The best ranked junior in the country, Mann Shah had competed in the main draw of the
Australian Open and the qualifying event of the US Open this season, but struggled with an abdomen strain this day.

In the girls event, Rashmikaa Shrivalli Bhamidipaty outplayed Prern Vichare to make her second successive final. Last year, she had lost to Humera Shaik and will try to add the junior crown in the final against the fighter, Sandeepti Singh Rao, who beat Reshma Maruri in three sets.

The results

Men (semifinals): Niki Poonacha bt Dalwinder Singh 2-6, 7-5, 6-3; Aryan Goveas bt Kunal Anand 6-4, 6-2.

Doubles (final): Ishaque Eqbal & Mohit Mayur w.o. Niki Poonacha & SD Prajwal Dev.

Women (semifinals): Sowjanya Bavisetti bt Vaidehi Chaudhari 6-3, 7-5; Prerna Bhambri bt Jagmeet Kaur 6-2, 6-1.

Doubles (final): Sowjanya Bavisetti & Rishika Sunkara bt Sai Dedeepya & Sara Yadav 6-2, 6-3.

Under-18 boys (semifinals): Udit Gogoi bt Rohan Mehra 6-2, 7-5; Madhwin Kamath bt Mann Maulik Shah 6-3, 6-2.

Doubles (final): Madhwin Kamath & Mann Maulik Shah bt Boopathy Sakthivel & Udit Gogoi 7-5, 6-2.

Under-18 girls (semifinals): Rashmikaa Shrivalli Bhamidipaty bt Prerna Vichare 6-0, 6-1; Sandeepti Singh Rao bt Reshma Maruri 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Doubles (final): Prerna Vichare & Sarah Dev bt Sanjana Sirimalla & Sudipta Senthilkumar 6-4, 6-2.