Top-seeded Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan proved too good for wild card Arjun Kadhe as he raced to a 7-6(4), 6-1 victory in the men’s final of the Fenesta National tennis championship at the DLTA Complex here on Saturday.

It was not only the maiden national title for the 23-year-old from Chennai, but also his first ever title in the Capital in more than 10 years.

The 18-year-old Arjun did well in the first set, but could not stretch the talented left-hander or deny him victory for long.

Jeevan, who has won titles in the ITF circuit, was quite fluent and did not give his young opponent any opening. Arjun did remarkably well to save two breakpoints in the fourth game, and served well overall to take the first set into the tie-break.

While Jeevan stepped up the intensity of his game, Arjun erred a bit in dropping the first set, after saving one of three set points with an ace.

Racing away

Once he gained a grip over the proceedings, Jeevan just raced away with the second set in about 30 minutes, as Arjun failed to hold serve after the first game. Jeevan was gracious in victory and appreciated Arjun’s good serve, but said that it all boiled down to strong legs and better physical fitness.

“It is an important title for me. I know that a lot of players have won this title and gone on to better levels. I am happy to join them,” said Jeevan, quite relieved that his stomach injury did not play up during the whole week.

Jeevan said that he was happy with the way he handled the tournament and looked back at the second round against Ajai Selvaraj as a tough match, as he dropped the only set in that match.

The women’s final did not live up to the standards expected, though the second-seeded Prerna Bhambri did very well to swing the fortunes around from the brink of defeat when she faced two match-points, before the top-seeded Rishika Sunkara retired midway through the decider.

Equal prize money

Ajay Shriram, Chairman and Managing Director, DSCL, listened to chief guest Sania Mirza while watching the matches and announced equal prize money for women with immediate effect.

So, the champion in the men’s and women’s events were given Rs. 1,50,000 each and the runner-up collected Rs. 1,00,000. Earlier, the women’s prize money was Rs.1,00,000 for the winner and Rs. 65,000 for the runner-up.

“Coming to this tournament is quite nostalgic for me. It is getting better every year,” said Sania, as she presented the prizes to the players.

In the junior section, top-seeded Rishab Aggarwal beat second-seeded Karan Salwan, losing just three games, while Pranjala Yadlapalli saved a match point to beat Tarrannum Handa in the girls’ final that spanned nearly three hours.

The results (finals): Men: Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan bt Arjun Kadhe 7-6(4), 6-1. Women: Prerna Bhambri bt Rishika Sunkara 2-6, 7-6(7), 4-1 (retired). Under-18: Boys: Rishab Aggarwal bt Karan Salwan 6-1, 6-2.

Girls: Pranjala Yadlapalli bt Tarrannum Handa 6-7(8), 6-0, 7-5.

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