Delhi ITF Tournament, Tennis: Niki Poonacha eliminated in semifinals

Niki Poonacha failed to bolster India’s hopes any further as he was beaten 6-3, 6-2 by Yusuke Takahashi of Japan in the semifinals of the $25,000 ITF men’s tennis tournament at the DLTA Complex on Saturday.

27-year-old Niki played well in patches that proved grossly inadequate against Takahashi’s consistently strong play. Ranked as a career-best 238 in 2017, the 25-year-old Japanese showed glimpses of the high-profile game as he used six out of seven break points to speed through the match.

Plagued by a strain on his serving shoulder, Niki couldn’t get into overdrive, though he managed to fire off two aces while holding serve in the fourth game of the second set. He converted two of three break points to fight for promotion but the Japanese dashed all hopes with a sharp performance.

In the final, the Japanese will challenge top seed Evgeny Donskoy, who was stretched by 19-year-old Korean qualifier Yunseok Jang to the tiebreak of the second set. The 32-year-old Donskoy, an accomplished player who finished 65th, a career-high, was very efficient and resourceful in dealing with the Korean’s energetic play.

With five aces, Donskoy converted three out of seven break points while the Korean showed his fighting ability by converting the two break points he forced in the match.

Donskoy, who has beaten some of the big names on the ATP Tour in his glittering career, had won the last of his 12 Challenger titles in 2019. He will be looking to win his third ITF title.

In the doubles final, Francis Casey Alcantara and Pruchya Isaro combined well, driving to a 6-2, 6-4 win over Parikshit Somani and Manish Sureshkumar. The Indian pair led 4-1 in the second set but lost control of the game after a brief rain stop.


Singles (semifinals): Evgeny Donskoy v Yunseok Jang (Kor) 6-3, 7-6(6); Yusuke Takahashi (Jpn) vs. Niki Poonacha 6-3, 6-2.

Doubles (final): Francis Casey Alcantara (Phi) & Pruchya Isaro (Tha) vs. Parikshit Somani & Manish Sureshkumar 6-2, 6-4.


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