JOHANNESBURG, Feb 6 (PTI): Commonwealth and Asian Games gold medallist Somdev Devvarman reached his first ATP final in two years after beating local wild card entrant Izak Van der Merwe in straight sets in the South African Open here. The 25-year-old rising Indian star scored a 6-2, 6-4 win over the South African to progress to his second career final at the Montecasino Entertainment Centre. His first one being in Chennai in 2009 where he lost to Croatia�s Marin Cilic. The victory has moved the Indian within sniffing distance of accumulating 250 ATP World Tour points and pocketing USD 76,500 first prize money. In the summit clash, Somdev will face fourth seed South African Kevin Anderson who defeated Frenchman Adrian Mannrino 6-7(3), 6-0, 6-4 in the other semifinal match.
Last year, Somdev was eliminated in straight sets by Spain�s David Ferrer at the quarter-final stage.
Somdev wasted little time in winning the first set in just 39 minutes, breaking serve in the first and third games. Merwe, much taller to his Indian opponent, rallied in the second set but Somdev broke again in the seventh game when his rival ended a rally with a tame shot into the net. Somdev has so far dropped just one set at the tournament.
Punishment handed out to us is harsh, says disgraced Butt
Lahore, Feb 6 (PTI): Pakistan�s disgraced cricketers, Salman Butt and Mohammed Aamer returned home on Sunday after being banned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) anti-corruption tribunal on corruption charges but faced no harsh reactions from the people at the airport.
The two players came out quietly from the terminal building and slipped away in their waiting cars but not before insisting they were innocent of the spot-fixing charges brought against them. Talking to reporters inside the terminal building, the two banned players said they were shocked and still at a loss over the bans imposed on them. �The punishments handed out were harsh. We are innocent and we intend to use every avenue to get the bans overturned,� former Test captain Butt said. �We were not expecting such a verdict from the ICC tribunal and I have said all along we didn�t get a fair treatment or hearing at the hearings,� he added.