Sharan-Raja storm into final

Tennis Chennai Open : Medvedev ends qualifier Kovalik's dream run in singles

The ever-improving Divij Sharan and Purav Raja livened up the Chennai Open for home fans by storming into the doubles final as they scalped the second seeded Argentines Guillermo Duran and Andres Molteni, here on Friday.

Unseeded Sharan and Raja were in complete control of their semifinal, save two breaks they suffered in second set in a 6-4, 6-2 win in the quarterfinal lasting 63 minutes. It will be the third ATP level final together for Sharan and Raja, having won titles in Bogota (2013) and Los Kabos (2016). Raja has played a final with Fabrice Martin in Zagreb where they ended runners-up in 2015.

When India’s challenge has already ended in the singles, and veteran star Leander Paes has also exited, the Sharan-Raja pair has kept the home fans interested in the tournament.

It can get even better if Rohan Bopanna and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan win their semifinal on Saturday to set up an all-Indian final. They play fourth seeds Nicholas Monroe from the USA and Artem Sitak from New Zealand.

Paes was impressed with their ‘I-formation’ style of play and said it was giving them excellent results.

“It really helps playing the I-formation. It keeps the players guessing which way the ball will move. It has worked for us,” Sharan, who hails from Delhi, said.

Medvedev shines

Daniil Medvedev earned his maiden entry into the singles semifinals of an ATP World Tour event when he ended the dream run of Slovakian qualifier Jozef Kovalik with a commanding win in the quarterfinals.

Russia’s Medvedev quelled a late resistance from Kovalik for a 6-4, 6-1 win that came in one hour and 28 minutes.

Nevertheless, it turned out to be superb tournament for Kovalik, who came through qualifying and scalped the biggest player of the event, World No. 6 Marin Cilic.

The Russian was playing much better than his first round effort. He not only served big as he fired eight aces and had sting in his shots, he smartly played drop shots to catch Kovalik by surprise on several occasions.

“I am super happy to be in my first ever semis in the ATP. My opponent played very good,” the Russian, ranked 98 in the world, said.

Both the players were unhappy with many calls during the match but Medvedev chose not to make an issue out of it.

“It’s part of the game. The conditions were same for both of us,” he said.
He next faces Israel’s Dudi Sela, who battled past Spanish third seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-5, 6-4.

Also making it to the last-four was French fifth seed Benoit Paire, who had an easy outing there, beating Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-0 as the British struggled with a back problem.

Singles results (Quarterfinals, prefix denotes seeding): 5-Benoit Paire (Fra) bt Aljaz Bedene (Gbr) 6-3, 6-0; Dudi Sela (Isr) bt 3-Albert Ramos (Esp) 7-5, 6-4; Daniil Medvedev (Rus) bt Jozef Kovalik (Svk) 6-1, 6-4; 2-Roberto Bautista (Spain) bt 7-Mikhail Youzhny (Russia) 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

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