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Cilic all clear, enters final

At five feet eight-and-a-half inches, Dudi Sela is one of the shortest players on the tour. In an age of power tennis, he relies on quick hands and feet to do the job. And his smart tennis proved good enough to compete with the third seed, Stanislas Wawrinka.

sports Updated: Jan 10, 2010 01:16 IST
Deepti Patwardhan

For most part, it looked like will could overcome the shortcomings. Somehow.

At five feet eight-and-a-half inches, Dudi Sela is one of the shortest players on the tour. In an age of power tennis, he relies on quick hands and feet to do the job. And his smart tennis proved good enough to compete with the third seed, Stanislas Wawrinka. But wasn't good enough to win in the end.

The Israeli, ranked 43 in the world, defied for more than two-and-a-half hours before going down 4-6, 6-2, 5-7 in the semifinal of the Aircel Chennai Open on Saturday.

Wawrinka will take on defending champion Marin Cilic in Sunday's final. Cilic made it to the title round in Chennai for the second time in a row when he beat an out-of-sorts Janko Tipsarevic 6-1, 6-3 in the first semifinal of the day.

Playing his third match in 24 hours, Janko spent 84 uncomfortable minutes on court, where nothing seemed to go his way, not even the let chords.

The Serb, however, wilted as Cilic applied consistent pressure from the back of the court. Maybe, it was the fatigue or just the weight of the 6'6" tall Cilic's shots, but Tipsarevic failed to drill the ball deeper into the court.

Though Cilic delivered a poor opening service game, the Croat barely looked like breaking sweat, even as Tipsarevic had to stretch to reach for his shots. The second seed won eight straight games in a row, pocketing the first set 6-1 in 25 minutes and going up 2-0 in the second.

'Tipsi' made a feeble attempt to fight back in the middle of the second set, but it only delayed the inevitable. By about 10 minutes.

Sela impressive in defeat

A banner at the SDAT Nungambakkam stadium said, "One heart, one love, Dudi Sela." The Israeli's fan base had been restricted to the outside courts in the tournament so far, with Sela not seen "glamorous" enough to be put on Centre Court.

Against the elegant Swiss, few gave Sela's chip and charge game a chance. His serve doesn't give him any free points and his groundstrokes rely more on spin than speed. But it is exactly the kind of game, given its novelty on the tour, that catches stronger players off-guard.