Prakash has Santoro to beat to emulate father Vijay

July 13th, 2008 - 5:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Newport (Rhode Island), July 13 (IANS) India’s Davis Cup player Prakash Amritraj will join his father Vijay as the second father-son duo to win the $385,000 Hall of Fame tennis championship title if he beats Frenchman Fabrice Santoro in the final Sunday. Watched by father, three times champion here, Prakash outlasted seventh seed Frank Dancevic of Canada in a tough three-setter, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-3, while defending champion Santoro beat Vince Spadea 7-6 (4), 6-1, in the semi-finals Saturday.

Prakash, the first Indian to make the final at an ATP Tour event for a decade, will be the second son to win a title his father won, the first being Taylor Dent who emulated his father Phil by winning the Hall of Fame here.

Incidentally, Taylor Dent, who was given a wildcard here like Prakash, was beaten by Dancevic in the first round when he was two points away from winning his comeback match.

It was a remarkable run for Prakash who has been struggling to garner points from the Challengers or trying to qualify for the main draw of Tour events. He beat his best friend Rohan Bopanna in the quarter-finals after the latter produced a stunner in the previous round by beating top seed Mardy Fish of the United States.

Prakash, a serve and volley exponent like his father, took the first set on a tie-break, but lost the second before coming back strongly to take the decider to beat the 99th-ranked player who put out Argentina’s seventh-seeded David Nalbandian in the first round at Wimbledon last month.

The California-based Indian won the match lasting two hours and 18 minutes to join Australian Mark Philippoussis, who won the title here in 2006, as the only other wild card to make the Newport finals.

Prakash has a 6-1 season record following his victories over Joseph Sirianni, Jesse Levine, Bopanna and Dancevic here.

If the 24-year-old Prakash wins the title here, it will be the first by an Indian since Paes won in 1998, though Vijay won it in 1976, 1980 and 1984 in his illustrious career tally of 16 titles.

Santoro, 35, and Spadea, 33, were the senior most players to be on the court in a tour event since 31-year old Brad Gilbert beat 40-year old Jimmy Connors in San Francisco in 1993.

Santoro, ranked 57th, has not won an ATP title since beating compatriot Nicolas Mahut in last year’s final, while Spadea, 33, is still looking for his second title to add to the one he won at Scottsdale in 2004.

Spadea and Dancevic each pocketed $19,000 for their semifinal losses, with the tournament winner collecting $64,000 and the runner-up $32,000.

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