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Zeel, Mahak inch towards another title clash at Fenesta Nationals

136   //    04 Oct 2018, 18:25 IST

New Delhi, Oct 4 (PTI) Top seed Zeel Desai and defending champion Mahak Jain inched closer to another title clash at the Fenesta National championship after scoring victories in their respective women's singles semifinals at DLTA on Thursday.

Zeel had to work hard to tame a fighting Sathwika Sama before emerging a 6-3 6-3 winner, displaying variations added to her game in the last few months, while Mahak got the better of C Shivani Sravya 6-2 6-4.

Zeel used drop shots very effectively and has added a lot of power and fluency to her double-handed backhand.

Sathwika had her chances against Zeel and could have troubled the top seed more if she had managed herself mentally.

Sathwika was 2-0 up in the second set with an early break but lost five games on the trot to let go of the advantage and the opportunity to put Zeel under pressure.

"I have played the way I wanted to play. I feel ready for final against Mahak. Last year I underestimated her but now I am ready for her," said Zeel, who trains under Australian Todd Clark in Ahmedabad.

Clark was pleased to see that Zeel could execute in match situations the aspects she was working on during practice.

"There are a lot of things she needs to work on but today she executed in match what she is practising in training sessions, like the drop shots," said Clark.

Zeel will fight it out with 24-year-old Goan Natasha Palha, who tamed gritty left-hander Ramya Natrajan 6-2 5-7 7-6(2), in the other quarterfinal.

The diminutive Mahak stood out with her court coverage and controlled ground strokes. She next faces seasoned and multiple-time champion Prerna Bhambri, who tamed Humera Shaik 7-5 6-1.


In the men's singles, Nitin Sinha knocked out an equally-talented Siddhant Banthia 6-2 6-2 to move into the last-four stage. It was expected to be a tough match but Sinha did not allow Banthia to play a close match despite carrying a minor wrist injury.

He has a tough test awaiting in left-hander and crafty S Vishwakarma, who fought past Manish Sureshkumar 6-4 7-6(4).

In the upper half, there was no stopping top seed Arjun Kadhe, who reached the semifinals, losing just three games against Ishaque Iqbal.

He will battle it out with third seed Sidharth Rawat, who outlasted former champion V M Ranjeet 7-5 6-0