SPORT

Bopanna pockets ITF title

Kamesh Srinivasan

GURGAON: Rohan Bopanna asserted his class with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Prima Simpatiaji of Indonesia in the final of the first leg in the ITF Satellite tennis tournament at the NTA Complex here on Saturday.

The 25-year-old Bopanna was in an attacking mood as he converted the chances that came his way with alacrity and had the fighting spirit to save a breakpoint each in the first game of both the sets.

It was important to take the initiative against the talented Indonesian Davis Cupper who needed a wild card to enter the event because of his low ranking of 1068. Bopanna broke Simpatiaji's resistance in the first set itself. The latter called for medical attention for a painful back at the interval. The lanky Indonesian, who whips his shots on both flanks and moves fluidly, couldn't enact his first set show in the second.

"I was getting a little tired myself and was glad that I didn't have to push myself much in the second set," said Bopanna.

Smooth sailing

The 460th-ranked Bopanna, who had won a Futures title in Kuwait recently apart from making the final of a similar tournament in Sri Lanka on his return to the circuit after a long injury lay-off following a shoulder surgery, broke Simpatiaji in the sixth game of the first set and in the third and fifth games of the second in sailing to a smooth finish in an hour and 12 minutes.

"I had problems with the racquet grip. I changed the racquet after six points as I thought it was better to change it then rather than after conceding a break," said Bopanna, as he recalled the initial hiccups, when he delivered two of his three doublefaults in the match in the first game.

"It's nice to get a good start to the circuit. I hope to continue like this. The thing is I can face any of the tough guys like those whom I met in the final and semifinal in the first week. A lot of hard work is still left in the circuit," said Bopanna, as he assessed the situation ahead.

The 23-year-old Simpatiaji looked to have exhausted his ammunition in the first set itself though he did well to save two setpoints in the eighth game. It was another matter that Bopanna served out that set with authority at love.

The best of Bopanna, who served only four aces this day, was when he converted the second breakpoint in the sixth game of the first set. He attacked the serve, hit a rousing crosscourt and finished with a crisp volley. The Coorg lad showed that he could push his game up a notch if the situation demanded.

"I have already played nine matches. I hope to relax for a couple of days and get ready for the second leg with a Tuesday start," said Bopanna, looking for maximum number of matches and ATP points from the circuit.

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