Vijay Kannan, Ranjeet set up final showdown

It will be a battle between two former National champions when Vijay Kannan and V. M. Ranjeet meet in the men’s final of the State Bank of Patiala National grass court tennis championship at the Chandigarh Club on Saturday.

In the women’s section, third seed Nidhi Chilumula tamed second seed Sai Samhitha 0-6, 6-2, 6-1 and will meet challenge the reigning champion Riya Bhatia in the final.   -  special arrangement

It will be a battle between two former National champions when Vijay Kannan and V. M. Ranjeet meet in the men’s final of the State Bank of Patiala National grass court tennis championship at the Chandigarh Club on Saturday.

The 31-year-old Ranjeet, well equipped with grass court shoes and a fair understanding of the courts, had a good work out as he tamed Suraj Prabodh 7-6 (1), 6-2 in the semifinal. The 36-year-old Vijay, in contrast, had to cool his heels on the sidelines as his opponent, top seed Dalwinder Singh, gave a walkover owing to a painful inflammation of the abdomen.

The young Suraj could not make an impact despite a good start and making a fight of the first set, as he had a predictably unidimensional game and his single-handed backhand could not trouble his opponent.

Ranjeet moved his opponent around and unleashed his strokes with verve this day, but when he tackles the craft of Vijay, who has kept himself physically fit with tennis thrice a week back home in Chennai, it could be a different ball game.

Vijay has been serving big and has the tools to provide a fairytale climax to his story in this edition, after having lost the grass court national final to Syed Fazaluddin when he was at his prime. It may be recalled that Vijay Kannan had tamed Rohan Bopanna for his national hard court title.

Interestingly, Ranjeet has not dropped a set in two meetings against Vijay Kannan in the professional circuit, but those two matches were on hard and clay courts. It remains to be seen whether Ranjeet gets to play his natural athletic game against a classy opponent who can be quite deceptive.

In the women’s section, third seed Nidhi Chilumula recovered from a demoralising start to tame second seed Sai Samhitha 0-6, 6-2, 6-1. She will challenge the reigning national hard court champion and top seed Riya Bhatia, who has dropped only three games in all in four rounds.

The 19-year-old Riya, who won an ITF women’s title in Egypt this season, was intimidating with her big game as she outclassed the surprise semifinalist, qualifier Aarushi Kakkar, a local trainee of coach Gurvarinder Sahota. Sai Samhitha, unable to make a breakthrough singles entry for the USD 10,000 ITF women’s event in Solapur next week, had the distinction of winning the doubles title with Amrita Mukherjee, as the duo beat NIdhi and Moulika Ram in straight sets. It was the second national doubles title for Sai, following the one she had won with Karman Kaur Thandi two years ago.

The men’s doubles title was bagged by Armaan Bhatia and Ishaque Eqbal, as they bounced with energy in beating Param Pun and Hardeep Singh Sandhu in straight sets. It was the second title in as many national level tournaments for the young pair, which has opted to forego the junior circuit to focus on the men’s events.

The results: Men (semifinals): Vijay Kannan w.o. Dalwinder Singh; VM Ranjeet bt Suraj Prabodh 7-6(1), 6-2.

Doubles (finals): Armaan Bhatia & Ishaque Eqbal bt Param Pun & Hardeep Singh Sandhu 6-3, 6-4.

Women (semifinal): Riya Bhatia bt Aarushi Kakkar 6-0, 6-0; Nidhi Chilumula bt Sai Samhitha 0-6, 6-2, 6-1.

Doubles (final): Sai Samhitha & Amrita Mukherjee bt NIdhi Chilumula & Moulika Ram 6-2, 6-1.