It will be a battle between two first-time ATP Tour finalists when Benjamin Bonzi takes on Tallon Griekspoor in the singles summit clash of the Tata Open Maharashtra on Saturday.
In the semifinals on Friday, Bonzi took out his third seeded opponent in a row – after Emil Ruusuvuori and Filip Krajinovic – sending home the tournament’s second seed Botic van de Zandschulp 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-1.
Griekspoor, who came into the contest against Aslan Karatsev after a day’s rest owing to Marin Cilic’s pullout, beat the eighth seed 7-6 (4), 6-1.
He was helped in no small measure by the Russian’s total implosion in the second set, which witnessed a slew of double faults, a stare into the eyes of an onlooker who unwittingly tried to coach him out of his slump and a mangled racquet.
Tennis-wise, the Bonzi-van de Zandschulp match was more compelling. The Dutchman was a breakdown in each of the three sets but managed to claw his way back in the first two before withering away in the third.
Bonzi was aggressive from the get-go, with his two-fisted backhand drive proving the money shot. After clinching the first set in a tiebreak – on his fourth setpoint – he went a break up in the first game of the second when van de Zandschulp met a volley a tad early and dumped it into the net.
It was roughly the time the floodlights started taking effect, and van de Zandschulp lifted his level, with his power-packed serve built on minimal movement kicking into action and his deceptively fierce forehand doing much damage. The World No. 35 held serve from 0-30 at 2-4 and broke Bonzi to level at 4-4 and ended the ensuing tie-break with a ferocious service winner.
In the decider, however, van de Zandschulp faded, quite dramatically, losing serve twice and falling behind 0-5. It was a point of no return.
“May be he was a bit down physically,” Bonzi said later. “I was focussed on not losing my serve and the second break made it easier.”
In doubles, the Indian pair of Sriram Balaji and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan made it to their first ATP Tour-level final together, beating Brits Julian Cash and Henry Patten 6-4, 7-5. They will meet Belgium’s Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, who defeated the top-seeded pair of Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4).
ALSO READ: Indian pair Balaji-Jeevan reaches final, Ram-Salisbury knocked out