French Open junior wild card tournament: Salsa wards off still Kaavya challenge

Kaavya Sawhney won the second set to force a deciding third set, which Salsa Aher secured to progress.

Top seed Salsa Aher fought her way past Kaavya Sawhney in the quarterfinals of the French Open junior wild card tennis tournament in Delhi on Monday.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Top seed Salsa Aher showed commendable composure in warding off a stiff challenge from Kaavya Sawhney for a 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3 victory in the quarterfinals of the French Open Wild Card junior tennis tournament on the clay courts of the DLTA Complex on Monday.

On the slow courts, spread over a layer of jute carpet, it was not easy to adjust for the free-stroking players like Salsa, but the left-hander was able to find her rhythm as the match progressed against the fighting opponent.

Having played the final of a grade-4 junior event in Ipoh, Malaysia, on hard courts on Sunday, and having travelled by road to Kuala Lumpur and then reached Delhi early morning, Salsa braved the odds to pull through against a quality opponent.

The only saving grace for Salsa was that her match was in the evening, which not only gave her some time for recovery but also saved her from the scorching sun.

In the semifinals, Salsa will be up against another tall and wiry player of considerable ability Humera Shaikh, who fought her way past Sunskriti Damera in the second set tie-break.

The other semifinal will feature, Bhakti Shah who had represented the country in the Junior Fed Cup recently, against Sarah Dev, who battled past third seed Nikita Vishwase in straight sets.

In the boys section, top seed Mann Maulik Shah was teased by the crafty Denim Yadav, but pulled through in the second set tie-break. He will be challenged by Kabir Hans in the semifinals.

Kabir had a good work out against the fluent Rhythm Malhtora, and handled the climax well to emerge a 6-4 victor in the decider.

Madhwin Kamath was quite solid and will be able to gauge his game against the explosive second seed Dev Javia, who subdued Sushant Dabas in an intense battle of left-handers.

The results (quarterfinals)

Boys: Mann Maulik Shah bt Denim Yadav  6-2, 7-6(4); Kabir Hans bt Rhythm Malhotra 6-4, 4-6, 6-4; Madhwin Kamath bt Divesh Gahlot 6-1, 6-2; Dev Javia bt Sushant Dabas 6-4, 6-4.

Girls: Salsa Aher bt Kaavya Sawhney 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3; Humera Shaikh bt Sunskriti Damera 6-3, 7-6(7); Sarah Dev bt Nikita Vishwase 7-6(5), 6-4; Bhakti Shah bt Gargi Pawar 6-2, 6-2.

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