Karan to take on Harsh in final

Kamesh Srininvasan

NEW DELHI: Defending champion Karan Rastogi played a sharp game to overpower second seed Rohan Bopanna 6-1, 6-3 in the semifinals of the ABN-AMRO tennis challenge at the R. K. Khanna Stadium here on Saturday.

Karan raced to a 4-0 lead in the first set before Bopanna bought time by having the court swept clean of the slippery dust.

However, that did not prevent the Mumbai youngster from pulling the rug under the feet of Bopanna.

Bopanna missed gamepoints both the times when he got broken in the first and third games, and the Coorgi lad was unable to convert four breakpoints in the fourth game.

Into the seocnd set, Bopanna played a lot bettter, but Karan came up with brilliant shots all along, especially to close out the contest after having taken a 5-2 lead.

Karan will match wits with the country's No.1 player, Harsh Mankad who was stretched to three sets by the Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan in the first round before he put together a solid game in outwitting the seasoned serve and volleyer Vishaal Uppal in the semifinals.

"I was nervous initially, but am glad that I was able to play my game. I was leading 5-3 and 6-5 in the second set and had a setpoint too, but the tie-break confirmed that I deserved that set,'' said Jeevan.

Meanwhile, Sania Mirza and former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek conducted a tennis clinic for the enthusiastic youngsters at the DLTA Complex. The two, along with Mahesh Bhupathi, Shikha Uberoi and Krajicek's sister, the 16-year-old Michaella Krajicek, will feature in an Indo-Dutch contest on Sunday.

The results (semifinals):

Harsh Mankad bt Vishaal Uppal 6-3, 6-3; Karan Rastogi bt Rohan Bopanna 6-1, 6-3;

Quarterfinals: Harsh Mankad bt Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan 6-1, 6-7 (1), 6-2; Vishaal Uppal bt Sunil Kumar 7-5, 6-1; Karan Rastogi bt Vivek Shokeen 6-0, 7-6 (3); Rohan Bopanna bt Divij Sharan 7-5, 6-2.