NEW DELHI: India's top tennis players Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhambri set up the Delhi Open title clash against each other after scoring contrasting victories in their respective semifinals of the USD 100,000 ATP Challenger, here today.
It turned out to be a walk in the park for Somdev, who outplayed Belgium's Kimmer Coppejans 6-3 6-1 in the first semifinal, which lasted just 65 minutes.
Barring the first seven games of the match, it was one-way traffic as 183-ranked Coppejans hardly put up a fight. It was surprising to see the Belgian not testing Somdev since he had played some good matches on the way to the semifinal.
Wild card Yuki came from a set down to win 4-6 6-4 7-5 against another Belgium player Ruben Bemelmans, but he was again found struggling to contain unforced errors, which could have cost him the match had the Belgian not been equally error-prone.
Yuki set the bar high with his upset win over second seed but failed to maintain the tempo, while Somdev has gone better with every match.
Yuki, without doubt, has a solid game but he will have to execute it against Somdev to stop him annexing the second consecutive Delhi Open trophy.
Asked about his unforced errors against Ruben, the 22-year-old Yuki said, "I had not played him before, so I was not sure. I was trying different things and it was not working. It took me a while to read him.
"He was not serving well in the second set and I was enjoying rallies," he replied when asked what turned it around for him.
Talking about the final against Somdev, to whom he lost in the first round of the Hong Kong Challenger recently, Yuki said whoever handles the pressure better will win the trophy.
"We have seen enough of each other on the circuit and in Davis Cup too. It's all about handling the pressure of the final now."
Somdev broke Coppejans in the eighth game and served out the opening set in the next. The momentum shifted suddenly and it became a no-contest after the first set. Coppejans' unending errors made it easy for Somdev.
"It was not easy. It was a tricky match. I put pressure on him with new balls but it could have been anybody's match," Somdev said.
In the second semifinal, left-handed Ruben was solid with his service games, hardly giving anything to Yuki to exploit.
The Belgian broke Yuki in the very first game to put the Indian under pressure. The 22-year-old local boy gradually found his rhythm and started to put up a much better fight.
He lost only a few points on his serve but could not cash in on two break chances when Ruben was serving for the set in the 10th game. He netted a backhand on the first chance and sent a forehand long on the second. Another backhand on the net by Yuki handed the Belgian first-set.
It could not have been worse start for Yuki in the second set as he dropped serve in the first game, thanks to a barrage of unforced errors. However, the Indian got the break back immediately as it was now Ruben's turn to commit a few errors.
The Belgian sent a forehand long and then double-faulted to hand a lifeline to Yuki. The Indian though failed to contain errors and was broken again in the third game.
Much to the relief of Yuki, Rubens dropped serve again and it was 2-2. Yuki managed to hold serve finally and broke Ruben for a 4-2 lead.
The two players yet again failed to hold serve but Yuki did not let the opportunity go in the ninth game, serving the set at love with a down the line forehand winner.
There was some contest in the third set with both players cutting down on errors. Ruben saved three break chances in the third game. They traded breaks in the fourth and fifth games.
Yuki broke Ruben for one final time in the 11th game and served out the match at love with a forehand winner.