Firing winners like he had suddenly received a bouquet of them, Evgeny Donskoy eliminated Somdev Devvarman 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 and entered the final of the State Bank of India ATP Challengers Tour $50,000 event here on Friday. The Russian, 23, had taken out Yuki Bhambri in the second round in straight sets.
It completed a comeback story for Saturday’s finalists where the third seed will meet unseeded Serb Ilija Bozoljac who, halfway into being double bagelled, won 0-6, 7-5, 6-3 win against top seed Aleksandr Nedovyesov. Having surrendered his Ukrainian passport because, among other things, he didn’t get support from the tennis federation, Nedovyesov has been a Kazakh since last January.
Devvarman opened the second semi-final with a long service game but the way the first set went it didn’t look like his service would increasingly haunt him as the match progressed. Devvarman had an early break after Donskoy, having got to 40-15 with an ace, failed to close the second game. Devvarman held comfortably to lead 3-0 and wrapped up the set in 24 minutes.
For seven of his next nine service games, Devvarman was taken to deuce. He was also broken five times. “I played a couple of bad service games in the beginning (of the second set),” said Devvarman. And as Devvarman’s service games got longer, Donskoy grew in confidence.
Some lusty hitting by both players and an equal exchange of breaks between games 4 and 7 made the set score 4-4 when Devvarman held serve but the momentum had begun to swing Donskoy’s way. Reeling off four points on Devvarman’s serve, Donskoy took the second set. “That gave me a lot of confidence and in the third set, I think I played really well,” said Donskoy.
By then Donskoy was taking the ball early and launching rockets with his forehand. Having pinged Devvarman to the baseline for most of the third set, Donskoy was dictating the rallies and when he opened a 4-1 lead, it seemed the only people still refusing to give up at the Bengal Tennis Association complex was a trio of young men shouting “come on Somdev” between points.
“He played really well, especially in the third set… came out firing and playing forehand and backhand, actually doing everything pretty well. He outplayed me today,” said Devvarman.
Donskoy won his last Challenger in November 2012 but was ranked 65 on the ATP Tour last July before a back injury at the St Petersburg Open in September. “Now I am starting to play better again,” he said. Neither of India’s top two singles players would doubt that.
Title for Saketh-Sanam
Saketh Myneni and Sanam Singh beat Vishnu Vardhan and Divij Sharan 6-3, 3-6, 10-4 in an all-Indian doubles final. It fetched them $3100 and 80 points.