Niki Poonacha was unable to shoulder Indian hopes any further as he was beaten 6-3, 6-2 by Yusuke Takahashi of Japan in the semifinals of the $25,000 ITF men’s tennis tournament at the DLTA Complex on Saturday.
The 27-year-old Niki played well in patches which proved grossly inadequate against the consistently strong game of Takahashi. The 25-year-old Japanese had been ranked a career best 238 in 2017 and showed glimpses of the high quality game as he capitalised on six of seven breakpoints to race through the match.
Troubled by a strain on his serving shoulder, Niki could not go full blast, even though he managed to fire two aces in holding serve in the fourth game of the second set. He converted two of three breakpoints to fight for his revival, but the Japanese scotched all hopes with a sharp performance.
In the final, the Japanese will challenge the top seed Evgeny Donskoy who was stretched to the second set tie-break by the 19-year-old Korean qualifier, Yunseok Jang. An accomplished player who had reached a career-best rank of 65, the 32-year-old Donskoy was very efficient and imaginative in dealing with the Korean’s energetic game.
Serving five aces, Donskoy converted three of seven breakpoints, while the Korean showed his fighting ability by converting the two breakpoints that he forced in the match.
Donskoy, who has beaten some of the big names on the ATP Tour in his sterling career, had won the last of his 12 Challenger titles in 2019. He will be looking to win his third ITF title.
In the doubles final, Francis Casey Alcantara and Pruchya Isaro combined well and cruised to a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Parikshit Somani and Manish Sureshkumar. The Indian pair led 4-1 in the second set, but following a brief rain-interruption, lost the grip on the contest.
Singles (semifinals): Evgeny Donskoy bt Yunseok Jang (Kor) 6-3, 7-6(6); Yusuke Takahashi (Jpn) bt Niki Poonacha 6-3, 6-2.
Doubles (final): Francis Casey Alcantara (Phi) & Pruchya Isaro (Tha) bt Parikshit Somani & Manish Sureshkumar 6-2, 6-4.