Shabaz in line for a grand double

Sixth-seeded American Michael Shabaz and German qualifier Torsten Wietoska will lock horns for the crown in the ITF Belgaum open at the VTU Tennis complex here on Sunday.

In the semifinals played on Saturday, Shabaz scalped top seed Sriram Balaji 6-2, 7-5 while Wietoska continued his dream run, ousting Portuguese giant-killer Andre Gasper Murta 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5) to make the final.

The first set between Balaji and Shabaz was an one-sided affair with the American clinching it 6-2 after earning breaks in the third and ninth games. Balaji could hold his serve only twice as his rival wrapped the set in just 35 minutes.

The second set began in similar fashion with Shabaz breaking Balaji in the very first game. Balaji had a golden opportunity to draw level in the sixth game when when he had Shabaz 0-40 down but the US player came up with four aces to hold the game. Balaji finally managed to pull one back by breaking Shabaz in the ninth game but subsequently dished out a poor game to surrender the set and match.

In the second match of the day, Wietoska continued his fine run to reach his first final in three weeks, stopping Murta in two tie-break sets. A match that saw hard hitting shots and long rallies lasted 125 minutes.

Wietoska, who came thro­ugh the qualifying rounds, had earlier reached semifinals at Davangere when he lost to eventual winner Sanam Singh and at Dharwad when he lost a close match to Ramkumar Ramanathan.

Amrit-Shabaz triumph

Meanwhile, Shabaz paired up with compatriot Amrit Nara­simhan to lift their second successive doubles title in as many weeks by beating top-seeded Indian combination of Arunprakash Rajagopalan and Vijaysundar Prashanth 7-6 (7-3), 7-5.

Results (Singles semifinals, prefix denotes seeding): Torsten Wietoska (Ger) bt Andre Gasper Murta (Por) 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5); 6-Michael Shabaz (USA) bt  1-Sriram Balaji (Ind) 6-2, 7-5.

Doubles final: Amrit Narasimhan (USA) / Michael Shabaz (USA) bt S-1 Arunprakash Rajagopalan / Vijaysunder Prashant (Ind) 7-6 (3), 7-5.

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