The former world No. 42, Malek Jaziri of Tunisia worked his magic in the climax as Gurgaon Sapphires made the semifinals with a 98-87 victory over DMG Delhi Crusaders in the Pro Tennis League at the RK Khanna Stadium on Saturday.
With a clear target of 97 required to reach the semifinals ahead of Lucknow Aviators, which had come up with a solid performance in recording a 103-82 victory over Proveri Supersmashers, Gurgaon was struggling at 46-44 before the last three of the nine rubbers.
Malek Jaziri beat Niki Poonacha 20-10 to get the valuable points on the board for the team. Anirudh Chandrashekar and Neeraj Yashpaul won the penultimate rubber 12-8 against VM Ranjeet and Faisal Qamar for Delhi.
In the last rubber that carried 30 points, Delhi needed six points and Gurgaon 14. In the event, Niki and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan tied 15-15 against Ranjeet and Jaziri in a memorable climax for both the teams, and possibly a nightmare for Lucknow, for which Sriram Balaji, Adil Kalyanpur and Madhwin Kamath had played their hearts out, after Siddharth Vishwakarma, Sravya Shivani, Diva Bhatia and Pradeep Pant had done their part.
Every point counts in the format, and it was the total points won by the three teams from the three league matches that powered them to the knockout stage.
Lucknow had no luck after scoring 282 points, as Delhi (292) and Gurgaon (284) overtook it in a heady climax to the league phase.
In the other group, Stag Babolat Yoddhas beat Paramount Proec Tigers 95-90 in the last league match, but both the teams qualified with 285 points, ahead of Sankara (268) and Bangalore Challengers (272). Yoddhas topped the group on the basis of beating Tigers.
In the semifinals on Sunday, Delhi will play Paramount while Gurgaon will play Yoddhas. The winners will meet in the final later in the day.