Bopanna-Ramkumar storms into semi-finals at Tata Open Maharashtra

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Rohan Bopanna and Ramkumar Ramanathan produced a power-packed performance to advance into the doubles semi-finals at the 2022 Tata Open Maharashtra at the Balewadi Stadium on Thursday.

The star Indian pair cut short the challenge of Austrian Alexander Erler and Czech Jiri Vesely in the Last-8 match with a nail-biting 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4) victory.

Bopanna and Ramkumar, playing their second ATP event together at the fourth edition of South Asia’s only ATP 250 tournament, which is organised by the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association, pocketed the first set in the tie-breaker.

After a hard-fought opening set, the second, too, saw an intense battle as both the pairs looked aggressive in their approach and were not allowing opponents to stretch the lead as scores were locked at 5-5 before eventually the set going into the tie-breaker.

The Chennai-born Ramkumar served big to keep themselves ahead and then seasoned doubles player Bopanna struck a smashing return to make it 5-4 before serving accurately and sealing the match comfortably.

They will now meet Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul in the semi-finals. The French duo entered Last-4 with a hard-fought win against Federico Gaio and Lorenzo Musetti 4-6, 6-3, 10-2.

Another Indian pair of N Sriram Balaji and Vishnu Vardhan will also be seen in the semi-finals after their opponents, Gianluca Mager and Emil Ruusuvuori withdrew from the last-eight match due to an injury to the former. The Indian duo, which entered the main draw as an alternate pair, defeated compatriots Arjun Kadhe and Purav Raja 6-1, 6-4 in the opening round played late on Wednesday night.

Earlier in the singles Last-16 encounter, Sweden’s Elias Ymer stunned top-seed and World No. 15 Aslan Karatsev of Russia in straight sets to storm into the quarter-finals.

Ymer handed Karatsev a shocking 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) defeat in the singles second round match that lasted for one hour and 36 minutes.

Meanwhile, Yuki Bhambri suffered a 6-3, 6-2 loss against Stefano Travaglia in the singles second round contest. The Indian gave his all to extend his return to Pune, but the World No. 93 Italian maintained his control throughout the game and secured victory as well as place in the Last-8.

Later on Thursday in another doubles quarter-finals, country’s Saketh Myneni and Mukund Sasikumar will face challenge from the top-seed Australian pair of Luke Saville and John-Patrick Smith.

The 25-year-old Ymer, who came through the qualifiers, started the game well and took an early 3-1 lead against Karatsev, who struggled to find his rhythm, playing his first match at the tournament, which is being owned by IMG and operated by RISE Worldwide in India.

With 76 per cent of service points won, compared to Karatsev’s 47 per cent, Ymer comfortably bagged the opening set against Karatsev, who committed five double faults.

The star Russian, who upstaged World No. 1 Novak Djokovic on his home court to enter the Serbia Open final last year, tried to forge a comeback but Ymer showed phenomenal reflexes and resisted well with some powerful shots to level the scores at 4-4 in the second set.

Ymer then held his serves and forced Karatsev, the first player in an Open Era to reach the Grand Slam semi-final on debut at 2021 Australian Open, to a tie-break.

“I was more focussed on my serves. When you serve well, you always win matches. I think the serve was the key,” Ymer said after his match.

World No. 163 Ymer started strongly in the tie-breaker by racing to a 3-0 lead and then maintained his fine touch to complete a sensational victory and sent Karatsev packing.

“He (Elias) played well. I didn’t start the match well and tried to find a solution in the second set to get back into the game,” Karatsev said.

The defending champion Vesely, who received opening-round bye, started his campaign with a confident 6-3, 6-4 win against Bernabe Zapata Miralles. Sixth-seeded Emil Ruusuvuori also had an easy outing against qualifier Vit Kopriva, securing a 6-3, 6-3 victory during a lopsided last-16 contest.

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