NEW DELHI, October 7 (www.dsclopentennis.com) - Wildcard entrant Nitin Kirtane and unseeded Sandhya Nagraj continued to stay in focus as they booked semifinal berths in the men and women's draws respectively in the 13th DSCL Open National Tennis Championship at the DLTA Complex here today.
Nitin Kirtane, a three-time National champion from Pune, based his 6-4, 6-4 success over 17-year-old J Vishnuvardhan (Andhra Pradesh) on wile and courtcraft in the same manner as he did against Gurmehar Singh and VM Ranjeet in the first two rounds. The left-hander drew on his years of experience as he defeated Vishnuvardhan.
In the first set, after he had traded service breaks early with the teenager from Hyderabad, he broke his opponent in the ninth game to be able to close out the set in 57 minutes. The early trend was repeated in the second set but Nitin Kirtane found the decisive service break in the seventh game.
The Chennai-based Sandhya Nagaraj, 16, sent a seeded player packing for the second day running when she got the better of No. 5 Liza Pereira 7-5, 6-3 in the quaterfinals. Sandhya had beaten No. 4 Archana Venkatraman 6-4, 6-2 (and not lost to her as reported yesterday) and has set up an interesting match up with No. 2 Sana Bhambri (Delhi).
Sandhya has had a good time last month, winning ITF Junior events in Chennai and Gurgaon and making the final of the Mumbai event besides winning two doubles titles. The left-handed Sana has dropped just 11 games in three rounds on her way to the semifinals.
The other semifinal will pit Maharashtra players, top-seeded Isha Lakhani and No. 3 Sonal Phadke, against one another. Isha was stretched to three sets by wildcard entrant Radhika Tulpule, winning the decisive set with a measure of comfort, while Sonal had to put her best foot forward in beating Parul Goswami in three sets.
In the men's semifinal, featuring left-handers Nitin Kirtane will meet the second-seeded Vinod Sridhar. The 31 year-old from Pune has not dropped a set in three rounds and can be expected to give Vinod Sridhar a run for his money when they meet tomorrow for a place in the final.
Vinod Sridhar spent less than an hour as he breezed to a 6-2, 6-0 verdict that ended Aditya Madkekar's dream run. Madkekar, who beat No.8 Sanam K Singh and wildcard entry Nomi Qamar in the previous rounds, broke Vinod Sridhar's serve in the fourth game but could not stop the 2002 champion from winning 10 games in-a-row.
Top-seeded Aqeel Khan took his appointed place in the semifinal with a straight set win against left-handed Ravishankar Pathanjali. The 6-3, 6-4 scoreline is not a fair indication of how close the contest was and the Tamil Nadu player will regret being too far behind the baseline and allowing Aqeel Khan a great choice of angles to play.
The battle for a place in the semifinal against Aqeel Khan featured two of India's top juniors - No. 8 Karan Rastogi and Tushar Liberhan. It held the attention of not a few tennis buffs until Rastogi plotted two service breaks at the start of the second set to race away to a 3-0 lead on his way to victory in an hour and three-quarters.
Rastogi held serve in the opening game of the quarterfinal before the players traded two breaks each to raise expectations of a rousing contest. Those were not belied as either players did not give much away and the games went with serve into the tie-break where the Mumbaikar made capital of the openings to claim the first set.
Preeti Subramaniam upset second-seeded Shivika Burman 6-4, 6-4 while Parul Goswami, unseeded due to lack of AITA junior points, went past No. 4 Pooja Kommireddy in the girls' under-18 quarterfinals. In the boys draw, Delhi's Siddharth Gulati beat the higher-ranked Rohan Gide in straight sets to make it to the last four.
Men's singles (quarterfinals): 1 Aqeel Khan (Pakistan) beat 6 Ravishankar Pathanjali (Tamil Nadu) 6-3, 6-4; Karan Rastogi (Maharashtra) beat Tushar Liberhan (Delhi) 7-6 (4), 6-2; Nitin Kirtane (Maharashtra) beat J Vishnuvardhan (Andhra Pradesh) 6-4, 6-4; 2 Vinod Sridhar (Tamil Nadu) beat Aditya Madkekar (Maharashtra) 6-2, 6-0.
Women's singles (quarterfinals): 1 Isha Lakhani (Maharashtra) beat Radhika Tulpule (Maharashtra) 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-1; 3 Sonal Phadke (Maharashtra) beat 8 Parul Goswami (Delhi) 6-3, 2-6, 6-3; Sandhya Nagaraj (Tamil Nadu) beat 5 Liza Pereira (Maharashtra) 7-5; 6-3; 2 Sana Bhambri (Delhi) beat 7 Sheetal Goutham (Karnataka) 6-2, 6-1. Note: In the second round, Sandhya Nagaraj (Tamil Nadu) beat 4 Archana Venkatraman (Karnataka) 6-4, 6-2 and not as reported yesterday.
Boys' under-18 singles (quarterfinals): 1 Rupesh Roy (Bengal) beat 9 Ajay Selvaraj (Tamil Nadu) 6-3, 6-3; Rahul Makharia (Maharashtra) beat 15 Alon Moses (Maharashtra) 6-3, 6-3; 16 Siddharth Gulati (Delhi) beat 8 Rohan Gide (Maharashtra) 6-3, 7-6 (3); 2 Vivek Shokeen (Delhi) beat 10 Peter Agnel Gladwin (Maharashtra) 6-3, 6-0.
Girls' under-18 singles (quarterfinals): 1 Sana Bhambri (Delhi) beat Poojashree Venkatesh (Karnataka) 6-1, 7-5; 3 GK Shweta (Karnakata) beat 5 Vandana Murali (Tamil Nadu) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3; Parul Goswami (Delhi) beat 4 Pooja Kommireddy (Andhra Pradesh) 6-2, 2-0 (latter conceded); 6 Preeti Subramaniam (Tamil Nadu) beat 2 Shivika Burman (Bengal) 6-4, 6-4.