Bengaluru: Tennis was the ultimate winner at the KSLTA courts as almost all the matches — singles quarterfinals and doubles semifinals — went till the wire in the Bengaluru Open, giving the viewers their money’s worth. Indian tennis legend Leander Paes doubled their joy by reaching the title round along with his partner Matthew Abden.
The Indo-Aussie pair quelled the challenge of the second seeds Jonathan Erlich of Israel and Andrei Vasilevski of Belarus 6-4, 3-6, 10-7 amidst the chanting of Leander’s name by the supportive crowd.
The only match that didn’t produce the fireworks was the second semifinal between another Indo-Australian pair of Saketh Myneni and Matt Reid who had to concede their match to an all Indian pair of Purav Raja and Ramkumar Ramanathan, seeded fourth here.
The latter had won the first set 7-5 and were tied 15-15 in the first game of the second set when Reid fell down and hurt his knee.
TWO MORE SEEDS CRASH OUT
Two more seeds crashed out of the USD 162,500 Bengaluru Open here on Friday with Italian Julian Ocleppo and Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi ousting their fancied opponents in the quarterfinals.
The 22-year-old Ocleppo knocked out 13th seeded Ilya Ivashka of Belarus 7-6(4), 6-7(3), 6-4 in a three-setter that lasted two hours and 40 minutes.
Another seed bit the dust in the form of number three Yuichi Sugita of Japan who went down to the unseeded Bonzi 7-6(5), 5-7, 4-6.
Bonzi will next meet second seed Stefano Travaglia of Italy who overcame a stiff challenge from 11th seed Blaz Rola of Slovakia before prevailing 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 in one hour and 56 minutes.
Ocleppo faces another stiff hurdle in the semifinals where he is pitted against fourth seed James Duckworth of Australia who overcame ninth seed Thomas Fabbiano of Italy 6-7(5), 6-0, 6-2.
Ocleppo was down 2-5 in the opening set after he got broken early in the second game. However, he came back strongly to win three games on the trot to tie at 5-5 and take the set into a tie-breaker, which he won.
“My comeback in the first set was very crucial because the match could have ended by the second set,” said Ocleppo.
After the opponents had traded a break each in the 3rd and 4th games, Ocleppo lost the tie-break even as he had two break points.
A stiff battle ensued in the decider with none giving their rival an inch. The Italian, who was on a break point in the ninth game, hit an awesome down the line shot to surge 5-4 ahead.
“That was my best shot of the match today and it was very crucial,” said the winner who held on to his serve to win the match.
“I know Ivashka very well both personally and about his game. It is tough to return his serves and he is a very good player who could have won this tournament. I served very well today and once I got used to returning, it became a little easy. I am doubly happy to have beaten him,” said Ocleppo.
Meanwhile, a clinic for juniors was held were around 40 children attended the session with leading pro Niki Ponnappa giving them tips. Their joy doubled when their idol Leader Paes too joined them.
Julian Ocleppo (ITA) bt  Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 7-6(4), 6-7(3), 6-4;  James Duckworth (AUS) bt  Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) 6-7(5), 6-0, 6-2;  Stefano Travaglia (ITA) bt  Blaz Rola (SLO) 6-4, 4-6, 6-2; Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) bt  Yuichi Sugita (JPN) 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-4
Matthew Ebden (AUS) / Leander Paes (IND) Vs.  Jonathan Erlich (ISR) / Andrei Vasilevski (BLR)
Saketh Myneni (IND) / Matt Reid (AUS Vs.  Purav Raja (IND) / Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND).
(With inputs from IANS and PTI)
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