India to meet Chinese Taipei
A. Joseph Antony
HYDERABAD: Chinese Taipei from Group B and India from Group A advanced to the final of the Asian Hopman Cup at the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh tennis complex here on Saturday. Taipei recorded a 3-0 win over Thailand, clinching both the singles and obtaining a walkover in the doubles while the host, that has won all its matches thus far, posted a 3-0 victory over Japan.
Rohan Bopanna quelled Yuichi Sugita's first set resistance and put down a late fightback in the second to subdue the latter 7-6(2), 6-2. Sania Mirza, who was stretched a shade in the first set, overcame Tomoko Yonemura 7-5, 6-2. The Indian duo then recorded a 6-0, 6-1 verdict in the doubles face-off.
Sugita managed to defuse Bopanna's blistering serves with his forehand chip initially and even won a couple of games at love when serving. Games went on serve until the tie-breaker, where Bopanna's thunderbolts boomed and his forehand held good while Sugita's two double faults only helped the Bangalore lad's cause.
Into the second set, Bopanna broke the deadlock early, winning the second game when receiving. That seemed just the catalyst he was looking for. Although there were only two of his dozen aces in this half of the contest, he was on overdrive, the forehand cross court and down the line shots landing the spoils.
Down 2-5 and with his back to the wall, Sugita staved off six match points, the game going to deuce nine times. But ranked 488, all that he could do was only to delay the inevitable.
Yonemura dropped the opening game against Sania, thereafter conceding the seventh and the 11th, while wresting her opponent's serve in the sixth and eighth. The 245-ranked Japanese player's return of serve was no match for the local lass though errors mounted at both ends.
While she didn't make many incursions towards the net, Yonemura's game did display fine-tuned ball control at times. On one occasion a diagonal drop volley had a menacingly advancing Sania deceived completely. So did the visitor show outstanding calm in the face of some adverse decisions and a boisterous home crowd backing its own favourite quite vociferously.
The results: Group A: India bt Japan 3-0 (Sania Mirza bt Tomoko Yonemura 7-5, 6-2, Rohan Bopanna bt Yuichi Sugita 7-6 (2), 6-2; Mirza / Bopanna bt Yonemura / Sugita 6-0, 6-1). Group B: Chinese Taipei bt Thailand 3-0 (I-Hsuan Hwang bt Nudnida Luangnam 6-2, 6-1, Ti Chen bt Weerapat Doakmaiklee 6-1, 6-4, Hwang / Chen w/o from Luangnam / Doakmaiklee).