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Poonacha enters ITF event final, to take on Crawford

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New Delhi, April 3 (IANS) The Indian swing of the ITF World Tennis Tour, which began early in March, will conclude on Sunday with India’s Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha taking on Oliver Crawford of the US in the ITF men’s $15,000 New Delhi final at the RK Khanna Tennis Stadium.

The 25-year-old Poonacha, aiming to earn a maiden home win in the ITF World Tennis Tour event, reached the final after Czech teenager Dalibor Svrcina gave him a walkover.

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“It’s been a great tournament for me. This is my first final of the year. The first few rounds were a struggle, but I think, towards the end of each match, I was getting better. Unfortunate for Dalibor, but I got a walkover and I think tomorrow will be a big day for me,” said Poonacha, who is the second Indian after Saketh Myneni (ITF M15 Lucknow) to have reached the singles final in the six ITF World Tennis Tour events held in India this March.

Poonacha’s run this week is in sharp contrast to the season he has had so far, and he is keen to make full use of the opportunity and win his second ITF World Tennis Tour title — and first since 2018.

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“The last three weeks, I lost in the first round. I had some injuries. So making a final, it’s pretty good for me,” added Poonacha.

Crawford, who dispatched Irishman Simon Carr 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 48 minutes, said: “I played well today. Played my game and played aggressive. I am finding a good rhythm in the last two weeks in India. I am super excited for the final.”

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Meanwhile, the No. 1 seeds in doubles, Arjun Kadhe and Saketh Myneni, brought home some good news as they won the title after the young Czech-Hungarian pair of Dalibor Svrcina and Zsombor Velcz gave a walkover.

“We are happy; we played well in all the matches this week. Unfortunately, we did not get to play the final today. We are happy with the progress, at least we are having tournaments in India and it’s good to be back on the court, playing competitive tennis. We all missed almost a year,” said Myneni.

Results:

Singles (Semi-finals): Oliver Crawford (USA) bt Simon Carr (Irl) 6-4, 6-3; Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha (Ind) bt Dalibor Svrcina (Cze) w/o.

Doubles (Final):Arjun Kadhe (Ind) / Saketh Myneni (Ind) bt Dalibor Svrcina (Cze) / Zsombor Velcz (Hun) w/o.

–IANS

akm/kh

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