Calcutta: Saurav Sukul became the first man from Bengal since Syed Fazaluddin to reach the title round of the National Grasscourt Tennis Championships, here, at the South Club, on Friday.
Sukul got his basics right and kept things simple to defeat Ronak Manuja of Maharashtra 6-3, 6-4 in the semi-final. In the championship match on Saturday, Sukul takes on Tamil Nadu’s Ramkumar Ramanathan, who staged a superb comeback to beat Rupesh Roy 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-1 in the other semi-final.
Obtaining a vital break in the fourth game of the opening set was good enough for Sukul to wrap it up.
He then broke Ronak twice in the second to go 5-1 up, as it appeared that Sukul was just a few minutes away from booking a final berth.
However, Rupesh made one last attempt to claw his way back into the game, having reduced the margin to 4-5. Sukul, though, ensured there were no further hiccups and held serve to seal the issue.
“It’s truly a wonderful feeling now that I’ve reached the final. But I can’t go overboard since there’s the final tomorrow, which won’t be easy at all,” Sukul said.
His statemate Rupesh made an impressive start, coming back from 1-4 down to win the first set.
His groundstrokes and drop shots were all falling in place till Ramanathan obtained an early break in the second set.
From thereon, the 18-year-old’s power tennis simply crushed his opponent, who looked out of breath and was even struggling to move as the match progressed.
“I was a little tentative in the first set, but pulled things back nicely thereafter. I hope I can produce a similar performance tomorrow as well,” said Ramanthan, who trains at the Emilio Sanchez tennis academy in Spain.
In the women’s section, top seed Ankita Raina of Gujarat hammered veteran Rushmi Chakravarthi 6-1, 6-0 to set up a final date with Goa’s Natasha Palha.
Rushmi, despite having a good run at the competition, was left clueless to her rival’s clinical display as Ankita wrapped up the proceedings in just 44 minutes.
Earlier, Palha rallied for two hours and 45 minutes to overcome Andhra Pradesh’s Mahitha D. Reddy 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-2.
On the other hand, Elwin Antony and Mohammed Fariz of Tamil Nadu emerged champions in men’s doubles, winning 7-5, 3-6 10-3 against top seeds Lakshit and Chandril Sood of Uttar Pradesh.
Meanwhile, a felicitation ceremony has been scheduled on Saturday for India’s Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali, who will be present during the finals.
Men’s singles semi-finals: Saurav Sukul (8) bt Ronak Manuja 6-3, 6-4; Ramkumar Ramanathan bt Rupesh Roy 6-7(3), 6-1, 6-1; Women’s singles semi-finals: Natasha Palha (5) bt Mahitha D Reddy 6-7(3) 6-3, 6-2; Ankita Raina (1) bt Rushmi Chakravarthi 6-1, 6-0; Women’s doubles semi-finals: Ankita Raina/Rushmi Chakravarthi bt Sagarika Phadke/Nupur Kaul 6-1, 6-0; Men’s doubles final: Elwin Antony/Mohammed Fariz bt Lakshit Sood/Chandril Sood 7-5, 3-6, 10-3.