Amitabha Das Sharma
KOLKATA: Ashutosh Singh of Delhi brightened his chances of picking up the second National title as he defeated second-seeded N. Vijay Sundar Prashanth in a long semifinal battle to enter the men’s singles final of the National tennis tournament here on Friday.
Ashutosh will take on the challenge of a relative rookie, fifth-seeded P.C. Vignesh of Andhra Pradesh, who beat another qualifier Vivek Shokeen of Delhi to make his maiden final entry.
Vignesh’s win was the only straight-set verdict of the day, which saw the rest of the singles matches going full length.
In the women’s section, two top-seeded players — Tamil Nadu’s Rushmi Chakravarthi and Bengal’s Sivika Burman — lost in the semifinals.
Karnataka’s Sheethal Goutham, the fourth seed, ended the impressive run of defending champion and top-seeded Rushmi to make it her maiden final. The local favourite and second-seeded Shivika was dislodged by wildcard Ankita Raina of Gujarat.
Ashutosh emerged as the biggest surprise of the tournament so far. As a late entrant into the tournament the National hardcourt 2007 champion had to play the qualifiers to make it to the main draw. But he justified his billing as one of the best bets on grass with his serve-and-volley game against second-seeded Vijay Sundar.
Ashutosh made too many errors initially and lost the plot in the first set. He came back later in the match to blow away Vijay Sundar in a match lasting 170 minutes.
In the women’s section, Sheethal set the trend winning the opening set by breaking the five-time champion Rushmi twice. The top seed equalised the set score, but Sheethal was in no mood to give in and won in the decider with a disciplined approach.
The results: Men: Singles (semifinals): P.C. Vignesh (AP) bt Vivek Shokeen (Del) 6-4, 6-4; Ashutosh Singh (Del) bt N.Vijay Sundar Prashanth (TN) 5-7, 7-5, 6-2. Doubles (final): Divij Sharan & Vivek Shokeen (Del) vs Vijay Sundar Prashant & Mithun Murali (TN) 4-6,7-6(4) unfinished.
Women: Semifinals: Singles: Sheethal Goutham (Kar) bt Rushmi Chakravarthi (TN) 6-3, 1-6, 6-3; Ankita Raina (Guj) bt Shivika Burman (Ben) 3-6, 6-2, 7-5. Doubles: Shivika Burman & Treta Bhattacharyya (Ben) bt Aishwarya Agarwal (MP) & Tanvi Shah (Mah) 4-6, 7-5, 10-7.