Somdev Devvarman of India reached his first ATP final in two years by beating South African wild-card Izak van der Merwe 6-2, 6-4 in the SA Tennis Open at Montecasino on Saturday.
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Devvarman, a two-time NCAA singles champion while at the University of Virginia, improved his record to 4-0 over his much taller opponent, progressing to just a second career final.
Home favorite Kevin Anderson, the fourth seed, will face Devvarman in Sunday’s final. The 6-foot-8 Anderson scored a 6-7 (3), 6-0, 6-4 semifinal win over France’s Adrian Mannarino.
Both men have lost in their only previous final appearance on tour, Anderson in Las Vegas in 2008 and Devvarman at his home tournament in Chennai in 2009.
Johannesburg-born Anderson leads 1-0 in head to heads over Devvarman after a straight-sets win at the 2010 U.S. Open.
Devvarman broke twice in the first set against Van der Merwe for a 4-0 lead, claiming the opener in 39 minutes as Van der Merwe struggled early in his first top-tier semifinal.
The home player rallied in the second, but Devvarman broke again in the seventh game and served out a straightforward victory for his third win over a South African this week.
”I felt he was more nervous than me at the start and he made more mistakes and that helps in big matches,” Devvarman said. ”I don’t want to come across as the bad guy, but it’s good to win a few matches when the crowd is against you.”
The unseeded Devvarman, who won gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games last year, has dropped just one set at the tournament.
Devvarman landed 65 percent of his first serves while the 6-foot-5 Van der Merwe could manage only 47 percent, despite his five aces.