Saketh shocks Vijay

Qualifier to face Tamil Nadus Mohit in summit clash

After losing the first set, Saketh saved two match-points to prevail over Prashanth 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 in a gruelling semifinal encounter at the KSLTA courts that lasted two hours and 15 minutes. In Saturday’s summit clash, the Andhra Pradesh player will lock horns with unseeded Mohit Mayur of Tamil Nadu, who outclassed State-mate and qualifier Mohammed Fariz 6-1, 6-2.

In the women’s section, fourth seed Natasha Palha of Goa overcame second seed Zainab Ali Sajjad of Andhra Pradesh 6-4, 6-3 to set up a title clash with third-seeded Andhra Pradesh lass Sowjanya Bavisetti. Sowjanya had to dig deep to beat qualifier Treta Bhattacharya of West Bengal 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (9-7) in their last-four match.

Saketh and Prashanth dished out a highly entertaining match that also witnessed several heated arguments between the players. The most controversial of them came in the seventh game of the decider with the score at 3-3 and 30-all. Saketh called for a ‘let’ (when the serve touches the top of the net and falls over) on his second serve but the chair umpire disagreed and called it a fault.

The double-fault gave Prashanth break point, which didn’t go down too well with Saketh. The players then had a verbal exchange for more than a minute, standing on either side of the net. When play resumed, Prashanth came up with an overhead backhand smash to break his rival and go ahead 4-3. Both players then held serve as Prashanth reached within one game of reaching the final at 5-4. The match took a dramatic turn when Prashanth, who had two match points under his belt, wobbled as Saketh pushed the game to deuce. Saketh then hit a double-handed backhand return winner and followed it up with a forehand volley which his rival returned long to level the score at 5-5.

The 23-year-old Saketh, who has returned to India after completing his education at the University of Alabama in USA, where he also competed in the NCAA (American College level sports), served well to take a 6-5 lead. Serving to stay in the match, Prashanth faltered with Saketh converting his first match-point to seal a title berth.

Earlier, Prashanth broke Saketh in the fourth game to pocket the first set 6-3. In the second set, the players traded breaks and were level at 4-4 when Saketh took control. After holding for 5-4, he broke his rival for a third time in the set in the tenth game to clinch it 6-4 and push the match into the decider.


Results (semifinals, prefix number denote seedings):
Men: Saketh Myneni (AP) bt 1-Vijay Sundar Prashanth (TN) 3-6, 6-4, 7-5; Mohit Mayur (TN) bt Mohammed Fariz (TN) 6-1, 6-2. Doubles: Mohammed Fariz/ Vijay Sundar Prashanth (TN) bt Kiran Nandakumar/ Ravikiran Bhat (TN/WB) 6-0, 6-4; Elwin Anthony/ Mohit Mayur (TN) bt Vinod Gowda/ Sourabh Singh (Kar/ Dli) 6-4, 6-1.

Women: 4-Natasha Palha (Goa) bt 2-Zainab Ali Sajjad (AP) 6-4, 6-3; 3-Sowjanya Bavisetti (AP) bt Treta Bhattacharya (WB) 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (9-7).

 Doubles: Sharmadha Balu/ Sheethal Goutham (Kar) bt Abhilasha Ahuja/ U Shalaka (Har/ Kar) 6-1, 6-3; Treta Bhattacharya/ Sonia Dayal (WB/ Mah) bt Zainab Ali Sajjad/ Vaniya Dangwal (AP/ Dli) 7-6 (7-4), 6-4.

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