Bautista-Agut, Paire set up exciting clash in Aircel Chennai Open semis

7th January 2017

India's Purav-Divij cruise into doubles final

Nungambakkam, Jan. 6: Spain's No. 2 seed Roberto Bautista-Agut and France's No. 5 seed Benoit Paire set up a mouth-watering clash in the semifinals of the 22nd Aircel Chennai Open, by notching up contrasting victories here on Friday.

Bautista-Agut outlasted Russia's Mikhail Youzhny 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in a gripping encounter that had the entire stadium glued to their seats till late into the night.

Paire, on the other hand, blasted out Great Britain's Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-0 in just an hour, with the latter seeming to have picked up a niggle during the course of their quarterfinal match on Centre Court.

In the other semifinal, Israel's Dudi Sela will take on Russia's Daniil Medvedev after contrasting quarterfinal victories. World No. 96 Sela dished out an inspired performance to demolish Spain's third seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-5, 6-4 while Medvedev snuffed out Slovakia's giant-slaying qualifier Jozef Kovalik 6-1, 6-4 rather easily.

India's Purav Raja and Divij Sharan gave the fans in Chennai a lot to look forward to by cruising into the doubles finals. They beat the Argentine pair of Guillermo Duran and Andres Molteni 6-4, 6-2 to set up the prospect of an all-India final. Rohan Bopanna and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan will hope to join them when they play their semifinal on Saturday.

In the match of the day, Youzhny seemed to be on his way when he took the first set 6-2 and notched up an early break in the second set too. But Bautista-Agut found his fighting spirit and big shots at the right time to break back for 4-4 and stay afloat. He contrived another break immediately after to take the contest into the third set.

Youzhny edged ahead 3-1in the third set as well but Bautista-Agut broke right back and held serve to make it 3-3. He hung on tenaciously until the critical break came in the ninth game for 5-4. Both players had the opportunity to take the game but eventually it was Bautista-Agut whol forced an error from Youzhny.

In an earlier quarterfinal encounter, Paire was his usual dominant self, dictating the pace and speed of the contest against Bedene. He broke him in the fourth game to wrap up the set in 40 minutes. Bedene, who summoned his physio during the break, more or less gave up the fight the moment he was broken in the opening game of the second set.

Paire easily pocketed one game after another to finish it in less than 20 minutes.

Kovalik, who had to return to an outside court after his sensational upset of top seed Marin Cilic on Centre Court, looked totally dazed as he took on Medvedev. He was broken in successive games right at the start to quickly slip to 0-4. He held his fifth game but a couple of double faults in the seventh meant that he was broken once again to suffer a 1-6 washout in less than 30 minutes.

He fought back in the second set, unleashing his vicious forehand strokes but it all proved to be in vain. He managed to even break Medvedev in the fifth game but it that also nothing but a false down. Medvedev, who looked weary-legged, broke him back in his own fourth and sixth games to romp home in 50 minutes.

The opening Centre Court match between Ramos-Vinolas and Sela turned out to be a visual treat, with the underdog producing a number of forehand beauties. He repeatedly left the much favoured Spaniard stranded by his sheer precision and power.

Sela, in fact, set the tone for the match by breaking Ramos-Vinolas in the opening game itself. Ramos-Vinolas managed to break back in the ninth to make it 5-all but Sela return the favour in the very next game. He served steadily and fired a forehand deep into the far right corner to claim the set 7-5.

Sela shot ahead in the second set too, by grabbing the first break point that came his way in the third game. Ramos-Vinolas, who seemed off-colour for the most part initially, began to play with much assurance after an hour on the court. But Sela was already in a zone and was in no mood to let up. He kept pounding away winners, extracting unforced errors from Ramos-Vinolas to wrap up the contest in style.


Singles: Roberto Bautista-Agut (ESP) bear Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) beat 2-6, 6-4, 6-4; Dudi Sela (ISR) beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 7-5, 6-4; Daniil Medvedev (RUS) beat Jozef Kovalík (SVK) 6-1, 6-4; Benoit Paire (FRA) beat Aljaz Bedene (GBR) 6-3 6-0; Daniil Medvedev (RUS) beat Jozef Kovalík (SVK) 6-1, 6-4

Doubles: Purav Raja (IND)/Divij Sharma (IND) beat Guillermo Duran (ARG)/Andres Molteni (ARG) 6-4, 6-2

Watch Aircel Chennai Open LIVE and EXCLUSIVE on Sony SIX and Sony SIX HD, 5:00 PM onwards.