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Somdev in semis

Calcutta: It was a birthday well spent for Somdev Dev Varman. He admitted with a smile that he had “stopped celebrating birthdays once I turned 21”. But on Thursday, at the BTA Complex here, his 29th birthday turned out to be perfect as he advanced to the semi-finals of the State Bank of India ATP Challenger tournament.

The second seed will take on third seed Russian Evgeny Donskoy, who beat qualifier Ti Chen of Chinese Taipei in the quarter final.

In the other semi-final, top seed Aleksandr Nedovyesov of Kazakhstan will face Serbian Ilija Bozoljac.

Somdev, though, didn’t have the best of starts, losing the first set to Spain’s Adrian Menendez-Maceiras. By his own admission, it was a “poor start with loose games”. His game was erratic, with a number of unforced errors creeping in, giving his opponent the advantage. But he found his rhythm in time to win 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.

The thrilling three-setter lasted a little over two hours, and the Indian second seed declared his class in the way he got back to the match and then didn’t give the Spaniard much of a chance. In fact, in the last two sets, he never even faced a break point.

With a break up in the very first game, Menendez-Maceiras sent a warning to Somdev. The Indian did manage to draw level at 4-4, with a break in the eighth, but the Spaniard got back in the very next game with a break, to lead 5-4. And then he wrapped up the first set 6-4.

But in the second, Somdev started serving a lot better, and controlled long rallies that unnerved his opponent. He took less than half-an-hour with breaks in the second and fourth games to win the second set at 6-1.

In the third , he grabbed an early break in the third game to lead 2-1. He then broke the Spaniard in a well-fought ninth game to close the deal.

Qualifier Ti Chen’s dream run ended on Thursday, with the Chinese Taipei losing the quarter final 4-6, 4-6 to Donskoy in just an hour and 15 minutes. Top seed Nedovyesov breezed past eight seed David Guez from France 6-1, 6-3.

In the doubles, it will be an all India affair in the final. Saketh Myneni and Sanam Singh will take on Divij Sharan and Vishnu Vardhan.