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Tennis News Sun, 26 Jun 2005

Salifu fails to win ITF masters at Dehradoon

DEHRA DUN, India -- Peter Clarke was pushed to his wits' end but the 25-year-old Irish lad dug deep to beat Salifu Mohammed of Ghana 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-4 in the final of the ONGC ITF Satellite tennis circuit Masters event at the Doon School courts here on Friday.

It was a hat-trick of titles for Clarke and he collected 45 ATP points for his effort in the circuit, missing only one ATP point from a maximum possible 46 as he had lost in the first round of the first leg.

Though he started slowly and dropped the second set with an uncharacteristic doublefault on set point, Clarke played with determination and energy. He was provoked both by his fist-clenching opponent who was letting out war cries quite often and the officials who were stringent in enforcing the rules.

Drama

Clarke was called for foot-fault and was given time violation when he took a few seconds more than the stipulated 20s between points. His response fetched him a code violation warning for `verbal abuse' from chair umpire Praveen Kumar Kashyap.

Despite all the drama in the sixth game of the decider, Clarke did well to save two breakpoints to hold on to the advantage of an early break. That break had come about in the third game when Mohammed slammed an easy overhead into the net on the third point.

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Clarke was easily the better of the two players though the 18-year-old lad from Ghana who lives in the US came up with more spectacular winners.

Clarke handled the climax with competence and came up with big serves and energetic groundstrokes.

Clarke won $800 while Mohammed was presented $600. A victory this day would have fetched seven additional ATP points for Mohammed but he had to be content with 15 ATP points. Clarke stood to gain only two additional ATP points with the victory today.

The Irish had beaten the top seed Rohan Bopanna in successive finals in the second and third legs at Gurgaon, and was keen to wind up on a positive note though the objective of winning the circuit had been achieved when he made the semifinals. Mohammed had the fire to make a match of it but he made silly errors on crucial points, including delivering a doublefault on set point after having broken Clarke twice in the first set.

Overall, it was a memorable match for the impressive gathering, easily the best crowd in the four-week circuit that enjoyed the lively fare in a pleasant atmosphere.

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