Poonacha sets up semis clash with Czech Republic’s Svrcina

Delhi boy Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha kept India’s hopes alive, marching into the semi-finals of the $15,000 ITF men’s tournament, getting the better of Italy’s Lorenzo Bocchi 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 in a little less than three hours at the RK Khanna stadium on Friday.

“I played a good match. I had injuries in the past few weeks, but I have been able to play good (tennis) this week. I had chances in the second set but I could not convert them. I was serving at 6-5 in the second but I could not hold (my serve). However, I played a really good third set and stuck to a plan,” said the 25-year-old Poonacha.

Poonacha started the match with a heavily-strapped right wrist but after the win he said he was confident about giving it his best shot in the semi-final on Saturday.

“I don’t think the wrist will be a problem. It is feeling better. The tape is just a precaution. I am confident I will do well in the semis,” added Poonacha, the 2019 Indian National champion.

In the other quarter-final matches, No. 2 seed Simon Carr of Ireland, fourth-seeded Oliver Crawford of the US and 18-year-old Dalibor Svrcina from the Czech Republic advanced to the last-four stage, beating Hungarian Zsombor Velcz, Alexander Kotzen (USA) and third seed Aidan McHugh from Britain, respectively.

Poonacha will be up against Svrcina, while last week’s ITF M15 Pune winner Crawford will take on Carr in the other semi-final.

In the doubles semi-final on Friday, the No. 1 pair of Arjun Kadhe and Saketh Myneni defeated compatriots Anirudh Chandrasekar and Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha 6-4, 7-6 to set up a title clash with the Czech Republic-Hungarian pair of Dalibor Svrcina and Zsombor Velcz.

In the final match of the day, which was partly played under floodlights, Svrcina and Velcz (both 18 years old) made short-work of India’s Manish Suresh Kumar and Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan 6-1, 6-2 in under one hour.

Results: Singles (Quarter-finals): Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha (Ind) bt Lorenzo Bocchi (Ita) 6-3, 6-7, 6-3; Simon Carr (Irl) bt Zsombor Velcz (Hun) 6-3, 2-6, 6-3; Oliver Crawford (USA) bt Alexander Kotzen (USA) 6-4, 7-5; Dalibor Svrcina (Cze) bt Aidan McHugh (Gbr)4-6, 6-0, 6-2.

Doubles (Semi-finals): Arjun Kadhe (Ind) / Saketh Myneni (Ind) bt Anirudh Chandrasekar (Ind) / Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha (Ind) 6-4, 7-6; Dalibor Svrcina (Cze) / Zsombor Velcz (Hun) bt Manish Sureshkumar (Ind) / Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan (Ind) 6-1, 6-2.