It was a week to savour for top seed Sriram Balaji as he clinched a hard-fought ‘double’ of the singles and doubles titles at the B.R. Adityan men’s ITF Futures tournament on Saturday.
After defeating second seed Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan in three sets in the singles final, he teamed up with the latter to overcome the Indo-South African duo of Arun Prakash Rajagopalan and Keith-Patrick Crowley in the doubles.
In the singles summit clash, the first six games went on serve.
It took until the seventh game for each of them to start challenging the other’s serve and two breaks were traded. Jeevan capitalised on the slightest of openings to hit winners at acute angles but Balaji did well to hang in there.
As the set meandered towards the tie-break, Jeevan’s serve turned slightly wobbly. Still, in the tie-break, he overturned a 4-0 deficit and saved a set point to take it 8-6.
But in the second set Balaji upped his game. He used his serve and double-handed backhand overwhelmingly. He often followed his serve with approach to the net and cut the rallies short, winning the set 6-4 to tie the match.
Deft drop shots
Displaying an array of deft drop shots and impressive backhand winners, Balaji turned the screws in the third. He broke Jeevan twice in quick succession as the latter’s confidence plummeted.
At 4-0 down, a visibly frustrated Jeevan decided to throw in the towel and was routed to love.
However, he recovered quickly from the disappointment to join Balaji in clinching their second successive doubles title.
Balaji continued with his impressive singles form. This was perhaps the best he has played in these two weeks and Jeevan proved to be more than an able partner.
After running away with the first set 6-2, the home duo lost the second on a tie break.
They were also guilty of fluffing a match point, but made amends by winning the match tie-break 10-5.
The results (finals, Indians unless specified):
Singles: Sriram Balaji bt Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-0.
Doubles: Balaji & Jeevan bt Arun Prakash Rajagopalan & Keith-Patrick Crowley (Rsa) 6-2, 6-7(6), 10-5.