Pune Challenger: James Duckworth beats Ramkumar, moves into final

Ramkumar, the sixth seed, goes down in straight sets in the semifinals, but makes it to the final in doubles.

Impressive display: The second seeded James Duckworth is now just a step away from the title. Photo: Special Arrangement

With top-seeded Prajnesh Gunneswaran not in the singles fray, second seed James Duckworth staked a claim for the KPIT MSLTA Pune Challenger Series title on Saturday in impressive fashion.

In the semifinals, Duckworth sent out the sole Indian, Ramkumar Ramanathan, at the MSLTA School of Tennis court in the Balewadi Sports Complex here. The sixth seeded Ramkumar lost 7-6 (8), 6-2.

Ramkumar, however, clinched a doubles final berth, partnering Purav Raja. In the final, it will play another Indian pair of Saketh Myneni and Arjun Kadhe.

Read | Ramkumar: Playing fewer events is my plan for 2020

Competing for the first time at the faster hardcourts in Pune, Duckworth adjusted to the court and climatic conditions and was rewarded with a title clash against Jay Clark, who is seeded fifth. The well-travelled Aussie had put out Sasi Kumar Mukund in a tough quarterfinal and countered the weapons in Ramkumar’s armoury. “I watched his matches before and knew about the big serve and volley,” quipped the second seed.

Starting off on the wrong foot, Duckworth dropped serve at the start, broke back in the sixth (3-3) and came into his own in the tie-breaker. Duckworth’s volleying stood out; he repeatedly passed his opponent and his touch play was effective.

Ramkumar stepped up the momentum in phases during the first set, celebrating aces and passing shots, but was not able to repeat the ruthless serve-and-volleying which doused Sumit Nagal’s fightback in the quarterfinals. Great Britain’s Jay Clark has a fight on his hands in the singles final.

The results (semifinals)
  • Singles: Jay Clark (Gbr) bt Roberto Ortega Olmedo (Spn) 6-3, 6-2; James Duckworth (Aus) bt Ramkumar Ramanathan 7-6 (8), 6-2.
  • Doubles: Arjun Kadhe & Saketh Myneni bt Vishnu Vardhan & Toshide Matsui (Jpn) 5-7, 7-6(1), 10-4; Purav Raja & Ramkumar Ramanathan bt Brydan Klein & N Vijay Sundar Prashanth 6-4, 7-5.