Accra, Apr. 6, GNA – Robert Kpodo outclassed gifted George Darko in two straight sets, 6-4, 6-1 to win the maiden Interplast best 16 Men’s tourney that ended at the Accra Sports Stadium on Saturday.
Kpodo, climaxing an impressive week that takes him to number one threw in experience on a game that Darko struggled to shrug the jitters and played with the handbrake on the entire session.
Taking an hour and 15 minutes, Kpodo began well with some delightful heavy serves to bag a lead. Darko was to level at one all in a matter of seconds, counting heavily on his strong serves and appetite to attack from the net.
Kpodo halted the breaks on Darko to win the next two serves, to break 3-1. He took a crucial break after Darko let slip a 30-0 lead. The winner fought to push the game to deuce, wrapping it up after thrice on the Darko’s advantage.
Appearing to be under a partisan crowd, Darko managed his way back, breaking fast by hinging on to some good returns on Kpodo’s serve that offered him the opportunity to attack craftily at the net.
Darko levelled 3-3 after appearing to have won the mental battle temporary following a nervous start. The next two serves were crucial and both players knew. And it took 12 minutes for the game to tie at 4-4 between the duo.
When Kpodo stepped forward to serve, he double faulted to give Darko a 0-15 lead. But he soon broke back to wrap the serve, bouncing the pressure on Darko who was to serve to take the game to five all or concede it to Kpodo.
The jitters returned to Darko’s court and as he laboured to compose himself, Kpodo locked in the advantage, breaking 0- 40 with three beautiful passing shorts before netting a forehand to lead 40-15. When Darko served what was to be a match point, Kpodo returned short; and Darko surged. Kpodo took his chance and lobbed beyond the imposing Darko to wrap the set.
With a set in the bag, Kpodo began the second firmly taking advantage of his support to quickly take a 30-0 lead.
An intended drop shot was to follow after Darko let fly a fine backhand. But Kpodo survived though his effort landed in his own court.
When Darko took over serving, he pushed the game to 1-1. That was the furthest for the giant who allowed Kpodo to take the wheel there on. Kpodo hit his stride; forcing Darko to commit unforced errors in the latter’s desperation to break back.
Darko then slows down the game in search of a rhythm which Kpodo barely allowed as he resorted to meeting every drive with force to keep his cruise. Then Darko double faulted twice in succession to gift Kpodo another break, his second in the set and fourth in all.
At 5-1 and Kpodo to serve, he knew history beckoned. He served big to Darko’s fragile forehand and the player sliced back deep to draw Kpodo. He obliges, move to finish a forehand that earns a short exchange. Kpodo runs to drop and does so craftily to wrap the game with two sets of a possible three.
Ecstatic Kpodo collapsed to the ground before stepping forward to congratulate Darko. Kpodo earns 10, 000 cedis for winning the tourney.