Gunneswaran downs Lee to enter Challenger final

Prajnesh Gunneswaran’s 6-2, 7-5 win has assured him of 48 ATP points, the highest raked by any Indian in a Challenger this year. He will face the unseeded Frenchman Sadio Doumbia. The winner will get 80 ATP points and cash prize of $ 7200.

Prajnesh served an ace each to win the last point of either sets and clinch the match played over one hour and three minutes.   -  M. Periasamy

Prajnesh Gunneswaran, the No.8 seed, beats all odds and won a lopsided semi-final against South Korean No. 2 seed Duckhee Lee in order to make his first appearance in an ATP Challenger final.

Playing the second semi-final of the $ 50,000 KPIT-MSLTA Challenger at the Centre Court of the Balewadi Sports Complex here on Friday, the Chennai-based left-hander served an ace each to win the last point of either sets and clinch the match played over one hour and three minutes.

Gunneswaran’s 6-2,7-5 win has assured him of 48 ATP points, the highest raked by any Indian in a Challenger this year. He will face the unseeded Frenchman Sadio Doumbia, who showed remarkable calmness for almost two hours to win his semi-final against Serbian Nikola Milojevic 5-7, 6-3-6-2. The winner will get 80 ATP points and cash prize of $ 7200.

There were 18 Indians in the 32 card draw and the discerning probably did not look beyond heavyweights like Saket Myneni, Ramkumar Ramanathan among the home players to advance as far as the title match, but Gunneswaran upset all calculations and took the No. 3 seed Myneni in his stride yesterday in the quarter-finals.

Although he began with a double fault, Gunneswaran was in control of his first serves, returned deep (winning in all 27 points only return of serves) and matched his superior opponent stroke for stroke.

After running away with the opening set in 25 minutes, Gunneswaran was up 4-2 when he dropped a game and allowed Lee to comeback at 4-4. But it did not turn out to be Lee’s day as he mishit many strokes playing virtually from the baseline.

"I was not really thinking about how the score would go. I knew what to expect. I felt my game was well suited to play him, because he is a little bit short and when I go cross court and top spin it, it would hurt him a bit.

"I tried to make him as uncomfortable as possible and I think that worked. Towards the middle of the second set he started getting the feel of the ball and he played a few more long rallies, but I guess I managed to get on top in that situation,’’ said Gunneswaran.

It was Gunneswaran’s second win over Lee. "For me it was someone whom I had played and beaten (in Bangkok). So his ranking of 152 did not count too much because it’s barely been a month and a half when I beat him the first time."

Purav Raja and Divij Sharan enters men's double final

The top seeded Indian pair in Purav Raja and Divij Sharan defeated the Serbian duo in Nikola Milojevic and Danilo Petrovic 6-4,6-2 to enter the men's doubles final of the KPIT-MSLTA Challenger here on Friday.

They will meet Luca Margaroli (Switzerland) and Hugo Nys (France) in the final. Margaroli and Nys bt Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and N. Vijay Sundar Prashanth 6-3,3-6, 13-11 in a one hour 22 minute semi-final.

Results: Men’s singles (semi-finals) Sadio Doumbia (France) bt Nikola Milojevic (Serbia) 5-7, 6-3-6-2, Prajnesh Gunneswaran (India) bt Duckhee Lee (South Korea) 6-2,7-5.

Men's doubles: Semi-finals: Luca Margaroli (Switzerland) and Hugo Nys (France) bt Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and N.Vijau Sundar Prashant (India) 6-3, 3-6, 13-11; (Quarter-finals) Luca Margaroli (Switzerland) and Hugo Nys (France) bt 2- Leander Paes and Ramkumar Ramanathan (India) 2-6, 6-3, 10-4.