New Delhi: Top seed Suraj R Prabodh and second seed Bava Haddin were tested by veteran Nitin Kirtane and Arjun Kadhe respectively before they sealed the men’s singles semifinal spots at the National Tennis championship, here today.
The 43-year-old grunting Kirtane made life tough for Prabodh, who is 21 years younger than him, before losing the quarter-final 3-6 6-7(4).
“I fought well but he played crucial points better than me,” said the the father of two boys, who has won this championship thrice (1995, 1998 2000), said.
Prabodh was not even born when when Kirtane had won his first national title.
Kirtane said he may have weathered a lot in all these years of competitive tennis but defeat still rankles.
“If you lose this edge, it means you are gone. I try to fight hard for each point,” he said, making it clear that he is not done yet.
Haddin also had to battle hard before prevailing 7-5 6-7(6) 6-4 over favourite Kadhe, who twisted his right ankle mid-way into the match but continued to resist his opponent from Kerala.
The play was largely restricted to the baseline as none of the two players employed tactics to outwit each other, rather preferring to stroke from behind.
Haddin earned a crucial break in the 11th game of the opening set when Kadhe failed to pick up a low half volley at 30-all and sent a forehand long on the next.
With an early break, Kadhe raced to a 3-0 lead in the second set but needed a medical time out after twisting his ankle. He dropped serve in the seventh game and eventually drew level in the tie breaker.
The third set was littered with breaks. Haddin though directed the match in his favour with swift movement and retrieving ability.
Up 4-3 in the decider, Haddin grabbed the moment with his trademark on-the-run forehand winner which put him up 30-15 on Kadhe’s serve and made a sensational return from the far right of the court as Kadhe messed up with the overhead volley to be down by two breakpoints.
Haddin sealed the crucial break when Kadhe netted a backhand. It was not tough for Haddin to clinch the match in the next game.
“My movement was restricted due to ankle sprain. I also could not serve well due to the ankle but he really played well. He deserved to win. He was better,” Kadhe was gracious in defeat.
Haddin said his body language was strong and he kept positive attitude all through.
“We both were tight, there was lot of pressure and heat but maybe he got a bit distracted. He got relaxed and I raised the level of my game at that time,” said.
Haddin will now lock horns with Dalwinder Singh, who ended the good run of talented qualifier Nitin Kumar Sinha with a marathon 4-6 6-4 6-4 win.
The match completely drained Sinha and also lost his subsequent Under-18 boys quarterfinal 5-7 0-6 to the tall Sacchitt Sharrma.
The other men’s semifinal will be between Prabodh and Manish Sureshkumar, who rallied to knock out former champion Mohit Mayur 1-6 6-1 6-1.
In the women’s singles, top seed Zeel Desai reached the semifinals with a 6-2 6-4 win over Shaikh Humera and is now up against Bhuvana Kalva, who made a remarkable recovery to send packing sixth seed Prerna Bhambri 0-6 6-4 6-3.
In the bottom half, fifth seed Mahak Jain accounted for second seed Sai Samhita Chamarthi 6-2 6-2 and will play the very talented Tanisha Kashyap, who advanced with a 6-1 6-0 win over Prinkle Singh.