Fariz Mohammed pulled off a stunning 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(5) win over sixth seed Sidharth Rawat in his opening round clash of the $10,000 LMW-ITF Futures tournament here on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old from Chennai, who spends much of his time training the young Neeraj Elangovan, enjoyed the kind of start that all players dream of. He served well and dominated on his forehand to clinch the opening set 6-2.

“I had played him twice and beaten him on both occasions. So, I was a little high on confidence playing the opener,” he said.

In the second set, Fariz continued to attack, but the sixth seed from Uttar Pradesh was clever this time round.

He tackled the telling forehands quite wisely and pinned the former to the baseline. And Fariz looked a bit shaken for the first time in the match.

Unlucky

He was a bit unlucky too. A ‘wrong call’ at a crucial juncture upset his rhythm as well. From a cushy position he slipped miserably to lose the set 4-6.

The third set saw Fariz at his best. He played to his strengths yet again to gain a 5-2 lead. At this juncture, rain cried halt to the proceedings for a brief period. “I got stuck a bit after that,” said Fariz.

However, he recovered on time and even had the opportunity to seal the match at 5-3. But a fighting Sidharth staged a brilliant comeback to take the contest into the tie-breaker. The decider went on serve but midway through Fariz broke free to clinch the tie 7-5.

Later, the big-serving Sriram Balaji, the top seed, warmed local hearts with an attacking 6-1, 6-2 win over Jatin Dahiya. It took Balaji a couple of games to shake off the rust. And once he did, there was no looking back.

The results (Indians unless specified): First round: Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan bt Vinod Sridhar 6-2, 6-1; Karunuday Singh bt Tarun Nath Surat 6-3, 6-1; Vijayant Malik bt Abhijeet Tiwari 6-4, 6-2; Fariz Mohammed bt Sidharth Rawat 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(5); Jui-Chen Hung (Tpe) bt Zach Itzstein (Aus) 6-3, 6-4; Vignesh Peranamallur bt Kumara P. Saradhi Adavelly 6-3, 6-3; Ajai Selvaraj bt Sagar Ahuja 6-2, 6-2; Abdullah Shaik bt Suraj Beniwal 6-0, 3-0 (retd.); Saurabh Patil bt Anvit Bendre 4-6, 6-3, 6-4; N. Sriram Balaji bt Jatin Dahiya 6-1, 6-2; Keith Patrick Crowley (RSA) bt Lakshit Sood 6-2, 6-3; Tushar Mandlekar bt Sagar Manjanna 7-5, 6-2.

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