The task of reaching the ONGC GAIL Delhi Open $100,000 ATP Challenger tennis tournament semifinals proved to be remarkably easy for Somdev Devvarman. On another sunny day at the DLTA Complex, the second seed’s quarterfinal opponent Ze Zhang succumbed to a shoulder injury that he carried into the match.
The Chinese conceded the contest after Devvarman had won the opening set 6-2, an unfortunate end to a match that had promised much. Many expected Zhang to trouble Devvarman with his powerful game. But, due to the wounded shoulder, Zhang’s big serve and his punishing forehand never came to the fore. The Chinese committed four double faults and could win only 42 per cent of his service points.
In no time, Devvarman was 5-0 up, and Zhang called in the trainer. The treatment seemed to help the World No.229 for a while as he broke the Indian to love and held serve in the next game. Yet, one game later, Zhang’s fate was sealed.
Despite the unfortunate manner of his progress, this represents a remarkable achievement for Devvarman. The 29-year-old has reached three consecutive semifinals in Challenger tournaments; he failed to progress beyond the last four, though, in Chennai and in Kolkata.
On Saturday, Devvarman plays fourth seed Evgeny Donskoy who beat him in the Kolkata semifinal. The Indian, though, has defeated Donskoy before — at the Indian Wells Masters last year, in three sets.
Donskoy produced a clinical performance to top Moldovan Radu Albot 6-2, 6-2.
In the other semifinal, top seed Oleksandr Nedovyesov will play Ilija Bozoljac, the champion at Kolkata.
Unlike his previous match, Nedovyesov did not especially have to dig deep against Lucas Pouille. A straightforward 6-2, 6-4 victory was achieved in 72 minutes. Bozoljac, though, was pushed hard by eighth seed Illya Marchenko. The Serb saved a set point in the tiebreak before completing a 6-4, 7-6(7) win on his second match point.
In doubles, Saketh Myneni and Sanam Singh will attempt to win successive Challenger titles on Saturday when they meet Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana in the final.
The Indian wildcard pair defeated a seeded duo for the second time this week as they outclassed fourth-ranked Adrian Menendez-Maceiras and Nedovyesov 6-3, 6-2. Myneni and Singh had won the Kolkata title last week.
The Ratiwatana twins edged Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Vishnu Vardhan 3-6, 6-3, 10-7 after the Indian duo threw away a 5-3 lead in the match tiebreak.
The results: Quarterfinals: Oleksandr Nedovyesov (Kaz) bt Lucas Pouille (Fra) 6-2, 6-4; Ilija Bozoljac (Srb) bt Illya Marchenko (Ukr) 6-4, 7-6 (7); Evgeny Donskoy (Rus) bt Radu Albot (Mda) 6-2, 6-2; Somdev Devvarman bt Ze Zhang (Chn) 6-2 retd.
Doubles: Semifinals: Saketh Myneni & Sanam Singh bt Adrian Menendez-Maceiras (Esp) & Oleksandr Nedovyesov 6-3, 6-2; Sanchai Ratiwatana & Sonchat Ratiwatana (Tha) bt Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan & Vishnu Vardhan 3-6, 6-3, 10-7.