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Prakash Amritraj in semis

Source: PTI
June 19, 2003 15:53 IST
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Playing an excellent serve and volley game, top seed Prakash Amritraj demolished national hardcourt champion Vinod Sridhar, scoring a 7-5, 6-2 victory in the quarter-finals of the third leg, in the ITF men's Satellite tennis tournament, at the DLTA Complex, in Delhi on Thursday.

In this graphite age, when the game is all about hitting the ball with power and precision, Amritraj's game came as a welcome relief.

The last time he played on the Delhi Lawn Tennis Association courts in a Challenger event two months ago, Amritraj was a bit unconvincing, making frequent errors at the net. He gave the impression of carrying the cross of being a legend's son.

This week though he served strong and backed it with good sense of timing in his approach to the net.

Sridhar, the sixth seed, could do nothing but bow to a superior opponent.

"He was serving and volleying very well today. I tried to come up to the net a little more so as to keep him at the back but that did not work," he said.

To Sridhar's credit, he got his first serve going and the match was in balance till 5-5 in the first set. The tenth game saw Amritraj, serving to stay in the set, hold nerve and serve after being dueced. A strong serve followed by a tight volley got him out of the quirky situation.

That seemed to put Amritraj in a zone as he forced two break-points in the very next game, and Sridhar obliged by dumping an easy backhand into the net.

Once he lost the first set, self doubts crept into Sridhar's game. He tried to come up to the net more but knew he was not playing his game and promptly lost two more service games to go down 0-3 in the second set.

Sridhar made a last-ditch attempt by breaking back in the fourth game but Amritraj quickly shut the door on any thoughts of a revival by his opponent by breaking once more to go up 4-1 and eventually clinch the match.

In the semi-finals, Amritraj will play third seed Vijay Kannan, who needed an hour and 20 minutes for a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Takeshi Itoh of Japan. The Indian did well to come up with three aces in the fifth game of the first set when he faced a 30-40 situation.

Similarly, in the second set, Itoh clung on to him like a crab in the sixth game and Kannan had to fire four aces to work his way past three break-points.

The other semi-final match-up will be between Indonesian Prima Simpatiaji and second seed Briton Daniel Kiernan.

Simpatiaji defeated Brian Hung of Hong Kong 6-3, 6-1 while Kiernan accounted for Febi Widhiyanto of Indonesia 6-1, 6-3.

Later in the evening, Manoj Mahadevan and Rishi Sridhar defeated Rohan Gajjar and Saurabh Kohli 6-4, 6-4 to enter the doubles final.

In the other semi-final, Prakash Amritraj and Stephen Amritraj put it past Daniel Kiernan and Ajay Ramaswami 4-6, 6-1, 6-1.

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