Somdev Devvarman fought past Evgeny Donskoy in straight sets to breeze into the final of the Delhi Open.
The second seed and 96th ranked Indian avenged his last week's defeat against the Russian fourth seed with a 6-4, 6-2 margin that lasted for an hour and 28 minutes in the $100,000 ATP Challenger tournament at R K Khanna Tennis Stadium.
It was third meeting between the two players. Somdev had won the first time they played last year in Miami Masters but lost to the 114th-ranked Russian last week in the semi-finals of the Kolkata Challenger.
Somdev has won two Challengers so far in three final appearances and last title came in 2010 in Izmir, Turkey.
Somdev played a solid game as he rallied to come back after Donskoy had rushed a 3-0 lead in the opening set. His nerves settled after first hold, Somdev started to play much better.
Employing his usual strategy, Somdev kept the ball in play and from the very first point of the match, long rallies came into play. Both Somdev and Donskoy, who was ranked as high as 65 last year, were solid from the baseline, ripping backhands and forehands.
It was not easy to subdue Somdev from the baseline and this kind of game only suited the Indian. It was Somdev who tried to change the course of the play by coming on the net, even as he did not have great success as he was passed easily by the Russian.
Somdev tried to play it on Donskoy's backhand and stroked very close to the lines, trying to open up the court, but the Russian was up to task and responded well to the challenge.
Not only the unforced errors but some great winners by both the players decided the long rallies.
Donskoy felt the heat and started to make errors on key points, making it easy for Somdev.
"The guy had beaten me last week. Today, I just had to fight hard and make life tough for him. I did not have a great start but I found my feet and was hitting with nice depth, moving the ball nicely. He is a quality opponent and I happy to be through to the final, it's a while that I played a final," he said.
Asked about his approaching the net which is not his game, Somdev said, "Last week, it was out of desperation but today it was on my own terms. I wanted to surprise him."
Somdev found himself down 0-3 in the first set after dropping serve in the second game but broke Donskoy twice to win four games in a row, taking a 4-3 lead. However, Somdev could not consolidate as he dropped his serve in the eighth game.
It was 4-4 and Donskoy dropped serve despite being up 40-15. Consecutive forehand errors from the Russian meant Somdev had the opportunity to serve out the set, which he did.
The second set started with exchange of breaks and the as the game progressed Donskoy's errors had him in deep trouble. Two backhand errors cost him the fifth game and his challenge fell flat when Somdev hit a volley winner for a 5-2 lead.
The Indian saved two break points before clinching the issue in the next game.
Image: Somdev Devvarman
Photograph: Stanley Chou/Getty Images