SPORT

Prakash Amritraj in semifinals

Danai Udomchoke of Thailand who beat Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany plays a return shot in the ATP Challenger Series at Dharwad on Friday. — Photo: K. Gopinathan.  

DHARWAD Oct.10. Prakash Amritraj, continued his splendid run in the $ 25,000 ATP Challenger championship and he is now a step away from the summit where the spotlight for the past two days has been totally on him . Prakash came up with another clinical display to demolish the unseeded Austrian, Zbynek Mlynarik at 6-3,6-3 in 90 minutes and stormed into the semi-finals at the Dharwad Disrict Tennis Association courts here today.

After his upset win over the second seed, Michal Mertinak, Prakash, was highly favoured to make the last four and he did not disappoint the fans, who turned out in sizeable numbers. He was very self assured and played with controlled aggression and kept the erratic Austrian on the backfoot.

" I was far more relaxed today and the strokes came in nicely and I hope things stay that way'' for the next two days'', said Prakash after the tie , which however, lacked the sparkling rallies that marked his earlier encounter.

Mlynarik, was in a great hurry as he pushed the pace to take the Indian in his stride, but things didn't quite work out that way as Prakash played solid stuff, returning almost everything and serving with enough fire to douse the Austrian hopes. In the first set, Prakash quickly seized he initiative as Mlynarik, playing away, netted three returns to concede a break point. Though he made it 15-40 with a forehand winner, he swiped another over the baseline to drop the game.

That break was good enough for Prakash, who then held his serve in the fifth game with an ace for a 4-1 lead and he sustained that effort, with a sensible play, giving very little away in terms of negative point and closed the set with ace at 6-3.

Mlynarik, who is ranked No.7 in Austria, lost whatever little hope that he had in the match, when he dropped the serve in the first game of the second set. Prakash, who went up 2-0 with holding his serve simply had to stay in with that advantage. He curbed flashy strokes and kept his focus on the job to wrap up the set and match at 6-3.

In the semi-finals, Prakash runs into the third seed, Yeu Tzuoo Wang of Taiwan, who made a short work of Takhiro Terrachi of Japan. he won 6-4.

The top seed, Danai Udomchoke, looked very consistent, as he took apart the challenge of the fifth seed and Tumkur Challenger champion, Phillip Kohlschreiber of Germany and won 6-4, 6-4 breaking his rival in the tenth game of the each set.

In the semi-finals, Udomchoke meets the fourth seed, Rik De Voest of South Africa, who defeated the seventh seed, Guillermo Garcia Lopez of Spain 6-4,7-5.

The top seeded pair of Prakash Amritraj and Rik De Voest,the champions at Tumkur, entered the doubles semi-finals with a facile 6-3,6-4 win over the Duth duo, Sander Groen and Paul Logtens. The second seeded Indian team of Rohan Bopanna and Hash Mankad, however,went down to Ratiwatana siblings from Thailand, Sanchai and Sonchat at 4-6,6-7 (5-7).

The results (Prefix indicates seedings):

Singles (quarter-finals): 1-Danai Udomchoke (Tha) bt 5-Phillipp Kohlschreiber (Ger) 6-4,6-4; 3-Yeu Tzuoo Wang (Tpe) bt Takahrio Terrchi (Jpn) 6-2,6-4; 4-Rik De Voest (RSA) bt 7-Guillermo Garcia Lopez (Esp) 6-4,7-5; Prakash Amritraj (Ind) bt Zbynek Mlynarik (Aut ) 6-3,6-3.

Doubles (quarter-finals): 1- Prakash Amritraj (Ind) / Rik De Voest (RSA) bt S.Groen / P.Logtens (Ned ) 6-3,6-4; 3-T.Matsui (Jpn) / D.Udomchoke (Tha) bt J.Auckland / L.Childs (GB) 6-3,3-6,6-1; M. Mertinak / B.Sekac (Svk) bt S.Bohli / S. Lammer (Sui) 6-2,6-3; Sanchai / Sonchat Ratiwatana bt 2- Rohan Bopanna / Harsh Mankad (Ind) 6-4,7-6 (7-5).