SPORT

Prakash a win away from ATP title

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON? Prakash Amritraj (left) will be keen to emulate his father, Vijay, by winning the title at Newport.

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON? Prakash Amritraj (left) will be keen to emulate his father, Vijay, by winning the title at Newport.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: AP

First ATP singles final for an Indian after Paes in 1998

New Delhi: Wild card Prakash Amritraj continued his dream run and put out seventh seed Frank Dancevic of Canada 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3 to be one step away from his maiden ATP Tour singles title in the $350,000 Hall of Fame tennis championship at Newport in the United States.

He will now meet the defending champion and the second seed Fabrice Santoro of France in the final. The elated 24-year-old said, “It was quite tough and we both played at a very high level. I expected a tough match as he is a very good grass court player, having beaten David Nalbandian at Wimbledon this year. I was very happy with my execution and focus today. The biggest strength was my staying positive. I lost out on some match points when he served 2-5 in the third, but was calm and served out the match at love in the next game.”

Family affair

It will be the first ATP Tour event singles final for an Indian after Leander Paes won his only singles title in the same tournament in 1998. When asked whether he felt special playing the final of a tournament in which his dad Vijay Amritraj had won the crown thrice, Prakash said, “It is great to make an ATP final anywhere, but to do it in a place with such tradition, a place where my father and uncle have both played well, is fantastic.”

Touching on the final against the 35-year-old Santoro, the oldest player to have been ranked in the top-50 by the end of last year, Prakash asserted that he would play his game rather than the reputation of the rival.

“I never really concern myself with my opponent. I figure out the specific strategy and then just worry about myself. Whether I am playing against Santoro or anyone else, I feel quite confident that if I am able to execute my game, I would have my way,” he said.

Prakash also said that he was quite pleased to have his father around. “He has been here all week, and it is great to have him, not just as a coach. We are so close that it keeps me in a good mindset to have him around. As far as his advice for the final, he just tells me to keep being me,”

Favourite surface

This event in the U.S. is played on grass. Talking about it, Prakash said, “playing on grass is definitely the most fun I have on a tennis court. And winning, of course, makes it all the more fun. This grass is definitely a throwback to the years gone by, with low and quick bounce. It definitely favours a traditional serve and volleyer. It is a court where I really feel that I can express my creativity as a player.”

He, however, was quick to emphasise that it would not be such a big advantage for him against the seasoned Santoro. “I wouldn’t say it is a huge advantage against Santoro, as he is quite seasoned on grass, especially since winning this title last year.”

The Indian Davis Cupper has already ensured himself of 120 ATP points and $34,000. He will look to pocket 175 ATP points.

Rohan Bopanna made the doubles final with Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan, beating Rik de Voest of South Africa and Ashley Fisher of Australia 5-7, 6-4, 11-9. The pair will play Mardy Fish and John Isner of the U.S. in the final.

The results: At Newport: ATP Hall of Fame Championships: (semifinals): Fabrice Santoro bt Vince Spadea 7-6(4), 6-1; Prakash Amritraj bt Frank Dancevic 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3.

At Gstaad: ATP Swiss Open: (final): Victor Hanescu bt Igor Andreev 6-3, 6-4. Semifinal: Igor Andreev bt Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 7-6(2), 5-7, 7-6(5).

At Palermo: WTA-Palermo International: (semifinals): Sara Errani bt Flavia Pennetta 7-5, 6-3; Mariya Koryttseva bt Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-2, 6-2.

At Bastad: ATP Swedish Open: (final): Tommy Robredo bt Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-1. (semifinal): Tommy Robredo bt David Ferrer 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.

At Budapest: WTA Budapest GP: (final): Alize Cornet bt Andreja Klepac 7-6(5), 6-3.

At Stuttgart: ATP Mercedes Cup: (final): Juan Martin Del Potro bt Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-5.

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