ITF Kalaburagi Open: Ramkumar in line for back-to-back 25k titles; Japanese pair wins doubles crown

Kalaburagi: Ramkumar Ramanathan inched towards back-to-back Men’s 25K titles with an almost flawless victory against Ryotaro Taguchi of Japan to reach the final of the ITF Kalaburagi Open in Kalaburagi, in Karnataka, on Saturday.

In the semifinals played at the Chandrashekhar Patil Stadium courts here, the lanky player brushed aside the visitor’s challenge in just 65 minutes to register a 6-2, 6-1 victory.

In the title clash, the fifth-seeded Indian will meet seventh-seeded David Pichler of Austria who, in a minor upset, scored a 6-2, 6-4 win against the second-seeded Matsuda Ryuki of Japan.

Meanwhile, Ryuki and Taguchi paired together and lifted the doubles crown. The Japanese duo dropped a set against the Indo-Austrian pair of Nitin Kumar Sinha and David Pichler before prevailing 6-4, 2-6, 10-7 to earn the winner’s cheque of US$ 1550 and 25 ATP points. The runners-up had to settle for a prize money of US$ 900 and 16 ATP points.

Ramkumar, who won the ITF Mumbai Open last week, was in a crushing mood as he served with aplomb and returned with vengeance. The first five games went with the serve with both players indulging in relentless attack.

The Japanese was the first to yield as he lost his serve in the sixth game, which increased the 29-year-old Indian’s confidence. With a big serve he won the 7th game and after a long battle in the eighth game, broke Taguchi’s serve to clinch the set 6-2.

The Indian Davis Cup player and Asian Games silver medalist, Ramanathan went even better in the second set and displayed complete dominance on the court.

The best that the Japanese could do was to hold his serve in the second game as Ramkumar sent a flurry of winners from either flank, which had the Saturday crowd in a frenzy. With breaks in the 4th and the 6th games, the taller of the two opponents wrapped up the set at 6-1.

In the other semifinal, Pichler raced to a 4-0 lead with courtesy breaks in the first and the third games. The players held their respective serves for the rest of the set where the Austrian won 6-2. In the second set, after a brief splash of form, Ryuki lost his serve in the third game but broke him back in the very next game to level at 2. The rallies were long and it depended upon the player to hold his nerves to come through, which Pichler did with aplomb. A break in the seventh game gave Pichler an upper hand as he clinched the set at 6-4 to enter the final.

Results (Indians unless mentioned, seeding in parenthesis)

Men’s Singles (semifinals): 5-Ramkumar Ramanathan bt Ryotaro Taguchi (JPN) 6-2, 6-1; 7-David Pichler (AUT) bt 2-Matsuda Ryuki (JPN) 6-2, 6-4.

Doubles (finals): Ryuki Matsuda (JPN)/Ryotaro Taguchi (JPN) bt 2-David Pichler (AUT)/Nitin Kumar Sinha 6-4, 2-6, 10-7.



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