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Somdev a win away from title

New Delhi: Somdev Dev Varman went a step closer to realise his dream of winning a Challenger tournament in front of home crowd when he reached the final of the Delhi Open on Saturday.

There were joyous scenes at the Centre Court of the RK Khanna Stadium as Somdev played impressive tennis to beat Russia’s Evgeny Donskoy 6-4, 6-2 in 89 minutes in the first semi-final. The fans in the stands chanted “Somdev, Somdev”, while some waved the national flag.

In the final of the $100,000 tournament on Sunday, Somdev will play Aleksandr Nedovyesov, who beat Ilija Bozoljac 4-6, 7-6, 6-3. “I liked the atmosphere here,” admitted the 29-year-old at the end of the day. “All that songs and chants sound good when you are winning the match.

“It is always a good feeling to play on home turf, especially in a Challenger. I don’t get that opportunity too often… Who cares when you go and play in Germany or Italy… I would definitely like to win the title here,” said the 96th-ranked player in the ATP list.

The victory was also a sweet revenge for Somdev, who lost to the Russian in the semi-final at Calcutta last week. “I never expected to win in such a solid fashion. Only last week, I got outplayed by this player. When I went to the court, my goal was to fight hard and make his life tough. I am happy to win against a quality opponent like Donskoy,” said Somdev.

Given the way Somdev started, the local fans feared it could be repeat show of the Calcutta semi-final. Donskoy broke the Indian in the second game and raced to a 3-0 lead within no time.

Somdev took control of the tie from this position. He broke Donskoy in the fifth game and then held on to his own serve comfortably to level the scores. He was hitting the ball with perfection from the baseline and displayed good tactics at the net.

The course of the match changed dramatically in the ninth game when a line decision from the umpire went against the Russian. The decision seemed to have a negative effect on a visibly upset Donskoy. He lost the service and the set 4-6 in 56 minutes.

The second set was a completely one-sided affair and lasted only 33 minutes. Still unhappy over the line call, Donskoy hardly made a movement on the court and lost his service in the first game of the second set. Thereafter, he made a brief attempt to make a come back by breaking Somdev in the next game, but surrendered his own service twice more to lose the match.