Prakash loses in Newport finals
Prakash Amritraj's dream run at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships ended after second seed and defending champion Frabrice Santoro handed a straight-set defeat to the Indian wildcard in the finals of the USD 385,000 event in Newport, United States.
Prakash went down 3-6, 5-7 in a one-hour-15-minute contest against his French rival, who became only the third player in the history of the tournament to defend his title.
There was disappointment for India in the doubles competition as well with fourth seeds Rohan Bopanna and his Pakistani partner Aisam-ul Haq Qureshi losing 4-6 6-7 (1) to the unseeded American duo of Mardy Fish and John Isner in the finals.
Playing each other for the first time, Prakash and Santoro broke serve in the first two games, but later it was Santoro who seized control with a second break of Prakash's serve for a 3-1 lead.
The 35-year-old wrapped up the first set in 30 minutes, winning 18 of the 27 service points.
"He did not serve with much pace and these courts are soft. The ball stays very low and it made it hard to return," Prakash said after the match.
"He is annoying. You play the point, you think it is over, and then you see the ball coming back," he added.
The second set went with serve until the 11th game, when Santoro converted his fifth break point opportunity of the match for a 6-5 lead.
The veteran Frenchman clinched his sixth career ATP title with a service hold to love.
But far from being disappointed, Prakash said he was satisfied with his campaign as he became the lowest ranked finalist in Newport history, besides picking up 120 ATP ranking points.
"This was a great stepping stone for me," Prakash said.
The ranking disparity between number Santoro (57th) and Amritraj (305th) at 248 positions was the largest difference in ranking between two participants in an ATP final since a Washington tournament last year when number five Andy Roddick defeated number 416 John Isner (a difference of 411).
Prakash's 305 ranking is nearly 100 points lower than the previous lowest ranked finalist, Mark Philippoussis, who was number 214 when he won the 2006 title.
The 24-year-old became the first Indian to reach an ATP final, since Leander Paes won the 1998 Newport title.
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