Wobbly Myneni marches into final

RELIEVED MAN India's Saketh Myneni blows kisses to the fans after beating Aleksandr Nedovyesov in the semifinals of Bengaluru Open on Friday. DH Photo/ Srikanta Sharma R

Saketh Myneni set himself up nicely to crown an injury-ravaged season on a high after winning a wildly fluctuating Bengaluru Open semifinal against Aleksandr Nedovyesov here on Friday.

Myneni, whose career has been plagued by numerous injuries, spent the opening half of this season rehabilitating from a left foot injury. He got on court only in August and slowly has been trying to work his way back into full fitness and form.

Flashes of his form had been witnessed at the KSLTA courts in the preceding two games, his big serves down the T and composed hitting drawing cheers from school kids who were his main audience. But it seemed like his fine run would come to an end in the semifinals when Ukraine-born Kazakhstan-settled Nedovyesov won the opening set 6-4 without much discomfort.

Myneni served out a poor fifth game and Nedovyesov made him pay by breaking him after the Indian hit the net. Myneni created a break point against Nedovyesov in the very next game but the Kazakh held in composed fashion. Myneni tried hard thereafter too but Nedovyesov served solidly to take one-set lead.

Things got a whole lot tougher for Myneni in the second set too when Nedovyesov, pulling off some good passing shots, broke him in the third game as the Indian trailed 1-3.

Myneni needed to up his game if he wished to extend his stay in Bengaluru and the 32-year-old did so in the sixth game when he broke the Kazakh to level things at 3-3. It was the kick Myneni needed and the 32-year-old then became a totally different player.

Riding high on the crowd support, Myneni pulled out his big serves to catch Nedovyesov by surprise. The Kazakh struggled to get the returns on target while Myneni hit some crisp winners to seal the second 6-4 and level things up.

Myneni then seemed like a man in a hurry as he raced to a 5-0 lead in the decider. Myneni even held two match points while leading 5-2 but shockingly double-faulted twice to allow Nedovyesov some more time on court.

The double fault on match point seemed to play on Myneni's mind as he kept making errors after errors post that. Nedovyesov gleefully accepted all those gifts to break Myneni twice and almost threatened to steal victory from jaws of defeat. 

Serving to bring things even in the 10th game, Nedovyesov ended up returning all those gifts as he erred badly to be broken. A relieved Myneni then blew kisses to the crowd, sealing a needlessly tense 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win.

In Saturday's final, Myeni will take on compatriot Prajnesh Gunneswaran after the fourth seed blasted past Brayden Schnur 6-4, 6-1.

Aussies rule

Australia pair of Max Purcell and Luke Seville clinched the doubles title after downing second seeds Purav Raja and Antonio Sancic 7-6 (3), 6-3.

 

Results (Indians unless mentioned): Singles, semifinals: Saketh Myneni bt Aleksandr Nedovyesov (Kaz) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4; 4-Prajnesh Gunneswaran bt Brayden Schnur (Can) 6-4, 6-1.

Doubles, final: Max Purcell (Aus)/ Luke Seville (Aus) bt 2- Purav Raja/ Antonio Sancic (Cro) 7-6 (3), 6-3.

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Wobbly Myneni marches into final

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