Finland youngster Emil Ruusuvuori earned a shot at his maiden ATP World Tour title with a hard-fought win over Kamil Majchrzak while Joao Sousa edged out Elias Ymer after saving three match points in high-quality semifinals at the Tata Open Maharashtra, in Pune on Saturday. In the doubles event, the second seeded Indian pair of Rohan Bopanna and Ramkumar Ramanathan saved three match points to beat the French pair of Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul 6-4 4-6 12-10 to storm into the final. Kamil got himself to a position where he was serving for the second set to force a decider but 22-year-old Emil walked out a with a 6-3 7-6 (0) win after one hour and 46 minutes of engrossing tennis at the Balewadi Sports Complex.
In the other semifinal, world number 137 Sousa used all his experience to wriggle out of crunch situation against talented Ymer to win the marathon contest 5-7 7-6(4) 7-5 in three hours and 13 minutes.
Sousa, 32, will now fight for his fourth singles title in his 11th final on the ATP Tour.
In doubles, he Indian team was down 2-7 and 6-9 in the Super Tie Break but held nerves to come out winner.
It will be second ATP final together for Bopanna and Ramkumar, having won the Adelaide event at the beginning of the season.
In the first singles semifinal, intense rallies featured from the beginning with both Emil, ranked 87, and 95th-ranked Kamil displaying their range of shots. It was not before the eighth game that a break opportunity opened up for the Finnish player in the opening set.
Kamil’s backhand landed just outside the lines and Emil found a passing winner to convert the chance as the Polish player was not in a position to counter while approaching the net.
Emil’s ability to find angled shots, that made Kamil work harder to reach out balls, made a huge difference in the opening set.
In the second set, it was Kamil who drew the first blood in the eighth game. Kamil’s trademark drop shot, which he found with an awkward jump but perfect hand-eye co-ordination, got him his break chance which he converted on the next point.
However, Kamil dropped his serve while serving for the set and ironically it was a go-to drop shot that set up an easy winner for Emil, who dispatched the ball in the open court to deny his rival.
Kamil was down a breakpoint again in the 11th game when he netted a forehand at deuce but saved that with an ace. A battle ensued with a number of deuce points in that game, which the Polish player eventually held and now Emil was serving to stay in the set.
Emil was put under pressure by an aggressive Kamil but the Finn held to stretch it to a tie-breaker, in which he raced to a 5-0 lead and finished the match with consecutive aces.
Later in the day in the second semifinal, early breaks and solid holds put Ymer in the driver’s seat as the Swede raced to a 4-1 lead. Sousa was struggling with his returns but still got a break back in the sixth game, which he sealed with a stunning backhand passing winner.
The experienced Portuguese, winner of three ATP titles, though upped the ante and despite facing two set points managed to make it 5-5. He got the second break back in the 10th game.
The Swede then served a double fault on set point and one more time on the breakpoint.
Ymer though picked himself up and earned another break with an exquisite backhand winner after an intense rally. Sousa netted forehand on the next point to allow Ymer to come out and serve for the set.
This time Ymer’s serve was at work with the Swede taking one-set lead by serving out the game at love.
The two players continued to trade breaks in the second set which was locked 4-4 after some intense action. Soon, tie-beaker was required as no break of serve happened.
Ymer got a mini break with some sensational hitting but Sousa got it back with a passing winner. Down 2-3, Ymer served a double fault which proved crucial as Sousa held his own to earn three set points.
Sousa converted the second when Ymer made a forehand error.
At 30-all in the second game of the decider, Ymer got a break point on an error from Sousa but could not convert it.
Sousa was serving to stay in the match in the 10th game. He was down 15-30 when Ymer hit a crushing forehand winner to get two match points but Sousa saved both on second serves.
A backhand return error gave Ymer his third match point but the Swede netted a forehand to squander it. Sousa’s big match experience was helping him under pressure as he held to make it 5-5.
Ymer made a backhand error at 30-all in the next game to face a breakpoint but saved it. Sousa kept Ymer under the pump by earning three more chances and converted third despite stubborn resistance from the Swede.
Sousa now came out serving for the match, earned his first match point when Ymer hit a backhand long and converted when the Swede made another return error. PTI AT AT PDS PDS
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