Rohan Bopanna keeps his cool

FIRED UP: Isha Lakhani had it easy against Sonal Phadke in the National grasscourt tennis championship in New Delhi.

FIRED UP: Isha Lakhani had it easy against Sonal Phadke in the National grasscourt tennis championship in New Delhi.  

Kamesh Srinivasan

NEW DELHI: He was up against a gutsy opponent who did not have much respect for his big game, nor for his reputation. On a tricky court where balls bounced haphazardly, making it a lottery many times rather than a test of skill, the top seed Rohan Bopanna kept his cool even as his first serves misbehaved in scoring a 7-6(4), 6-4 victory over Divij Sharan in the quarterfinals of the State Bank of Saurashtra National grass court tennis championship at the DSOI Complex, Dhaula Kuan, here on Thursday.

Court's state

Bopanna who fired 19 aces and grappled with 11 double faults gave his sharp view on the court after the gripping contest, and the referee Puneet Gupta talked to the authorities to ensure that the action would shift to the R. K. Khanna Stadium on the morrow, a day prior to the original schedule.

An erratic start, when he delivered three double faults in his first service game saw Bopanna being broken in the second game. However, Divij was unable to hang on to that advantage for long as he surrendered the break in the next game.

Bopanna delivered an ace to wrap up the first set, and continued to serve consistently well for the better part of the second set except in the fifth game when two double faults saw him face breakpoints twice.

Divij came up with his only ace in the eighth game of the second set on game point, as the ball took off from a spot and flew miles above Bopanna. He had only two double faults and the second set up a match point for Bopanna and Divij put a forehand into the net to end his challenge. Bopanna will next meet the fifth-seeded J. Vishnu Vardhan.

Serving as strongly as Bopanna, especially in the 12th game of the first set when he fired three aces to wrap up the set, Vishnu was leading 7-5, 4-3 against Ashutosh Singh when the latter retired with a pulled back muscle.

Best match

In the best match of the day, the second seed Karan Rastogi asserted himself against Sanam Singh who had captured everyone's imagination by winning his maiden ITF Futures title last Saturday.

In a cracker of a contest, Karan who had beaten Davis Cuppers Rohan Bopanna and Harsh Mankad in the recent ABN-AMRO Challenge, emphasised his unquenchable thirst for success, in racing to a 7-5, 6-3 triumph.

Sanam had not dropped a set in two weeks of intense competition and it was tough for him to continue in the same fashion. He did have his chances, particularly in what proved to be the last game of the match, as he saved three match points but missed three breakpoints, in making a quick bow.

Karan will be up against the volley specialist, Vishaal Uppal who did not have to exert much against Mohammad Yasser Arafat.

Sanaa posts win

In the women's section, the second seeded Isha Lakhani beat Sonal Phadke in straight sets, as she had done a few times in recent weeks like in the final of the hard court national championship.

Isha will meet former national champion Sanaa Bhambri who was too good for Paarul Goswami. The top seeded Rushmi Chakravarthi was stretched to three sets by Sandhya Nagaraj and will be challenged by the fourth-seeded Punam Reddy.

In the only doubles semifinal of the day, the top seeds Rushmi and Punam were down a set at 6-7(3) against Geeta Manohar and Archana Venkataraman when bad light forced the abandonment of play.

The results:

Men (quarterfinals): Rohan Bopanna bt Divij Sharan 7-6(4), 6-4; Vishnu Vardhan bt Ashutosh Singh 7-5, 4-3 (retired); Vishaal Uppal bt Mohammad Yasser Arafat 6-2, 6-3; Karan Rastogi bt Sanam Singh 7-5, 6-3. Doubles (quarterfinals): Divij Sharan / Vivek Shokeen bt Mohammad Yasser Arafat / Vivek Reddy 6-1, 6-4; Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan / Sanam Singh bt Sandeep Kirtane / Purav Raja 7-5, 6-3.

Women (quarterfinals): Rushmi Chakravarthi bt Sandhya Nagaraj 6-3, 3-6, 6-1; Punam Reddy bt Archana Venkataraman 6-2, 6-1; Sanaa Bhambri bt Paarul Goswami 6-1, 6-0; Isha Lakhani bt Sonal Phadke 6-3, 7-5. Doubles (quarterfinals): Sagarika Phadke / Sonal Phadke bt Vishika Chhetri / Liza Pereira 6-1, 6-4; Sanaa Bhambri / Sandhya Nagaraj bt Karina Ahuja / Shweta Solanki 6-0, 6-0.

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