India's Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha brought cheers to the Indian tennis fans with a convincing 6-3, 7-6 win over American fourth seed Oliver Crawford in the final of the ITF Men's $15,000 New Delhi at RK Khanna Tennis Stadium on Sunday.
With this victory, the Indian swing of the ITF World Tennis Tour which began at the onset of March 2021 comes to an end with Poonacha earning India its maiden home win in singles.
On Saturday, top seeds in doubles Arjun Kadhe and Saketh Myneni lifted the doubles championship trophies.
Poonacha, en route to his win today, also ended his title drought on the ITF Men's Tour since his maiden win in Indonesia in 2018 and was happy that he did not give up and fought hard to win.
"It feels great. Thank you to all the support staff once again, everyone played an important role in improving my game. It's a very happy moment, just too nervous. It's a good feeling. The one thing that kept me going was that I have worked so hard and did not want to give up so easy. So I just kept on fighting," said Poonacha, after the win.
The 25-year-old resident of Anantpur, Poonacha got through the first set comfortably and took the lead in the match. However, the winner of last week's Men's $15,000 Pune event, Crawford tried his best to make a comeback in the second set to take the match into the deciding set.
After the loss, 21-year-old Crawford said, "Obviously, I did not get the job done today. I wish I was a little bit better today but he played better than me and he deserved to win."
Crawford was leading 5-3 in the second set but failed to convert three break points which eventually cost him dearly. Poonacha managed to hold his serve and leveled the scores at 5-5 in the second set. Poonacha then finished off the match in the tiebreaker to take the trophy home.
"I did not play really well down the stretch. I played a couple of good points on his serve. It was a bit him playing well and me not playing my best in the crucial moments and when that happens, it's tough to get it done," said Crawford.
"It was a good last two weeks here in India. Super happy with the way I have performed," Crawford concluded about his Indian tour this month.
( With inputs from ANI )
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