Niki Poonacha played a sharp game to snuff the challenge from Karan Singh 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of the $15,000 ITF men’s tennis tournament at the DLTA Complex on Friday.
Having lost to Karan twice in their two meetings last year, Niki knew that he had to step up his game and play close to his best. He did so by serving big and stroking consistently beyond the reach of Karan.
In the semifinals, Niki will play Digvijay Pratap Singh who proved too hot for Faisal Qamar. Having lost to Niki in the national championship final last year, missing three match points along the way, the much improved Digvijay must be keen to settle a score.
With two Indian players facing each other, a local finalist has been assured. The other half will feature top seed Oliver Crawford of the USA fighting fifth seed Florent Bax of France.
Oliver, easily the best ranked in the tournament at 358 on the ATP computer, found the wiry left-hander Siddharth Vishwakarma hard to tackle, but found his way to a 7-6(4), 6-4 victory.
Ranked a modest 1144, Siddharth whipped up a vibrant game, but slipped to 0-6 in the tie-break after which it was a struggle to keep pace with the American. He did fight back from being 1-4 down in the second set, but Crawford had by then gauged his opponent and had the clarity of approach to reach the semifinals.
Florent Bax was too good for Nitin Kumar Sinha, as he conceded only three games with his brisk approach and energetic game.
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Nitin did make the doubles final with Vishnu Vardhan, beating the top seeds Parikshit Somani and Manish Sureshkumar 10-7 in the super tie-break.
It was more thrilling in the other semifinal for Rithvik Bollipalli and Niki Poonacha, the champions last week in Tunisia, as they won 11-9 in the super tie-break, saving a match point against Florent Bax and Nicholas Bybel.
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