N. Sriram Balaji lived up to his top billing defeating Jui-Chen Hung 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-5 in a quarterfinal clash of the $10,000 LMW-ITF Futures tournament at the Perks Tennis Centre here on Thursday.
Pinning the top seed to the baseline, Jui-Chen broke early and ran up a 4-1 lead. For a brief moment, Balaji looked lost in the woods.
“It was too windy and I could not hit the ball well,” he said later.
However, Balaji presently made it 5-5 with some well-angled crosscourt returns and delicate drop shots. Despite making up lost ground, Balaji went on to lose the tie-break.
Balaji won the second set on a single break of serve — in the eighth game — to take the match into the decider.
The situation was pretty much the same in the third. Balaji served big, and Jui-Chen kept up relying on court coverage. With both players refusing to yield, another tie-breaker loomed.
However, Balaji managed the decisive break in the 11th game to go up 6-5. Balaji was tested, but held his nerve to wrap up the set and match.
“I should not have allowed him his comfort zone (at the beginning). In the second set, I decided to loop the ball, and mix things up. It worked well,” said the Indian.
Balaji did admit that he was under pressure in the third. “But with my family and the crowd by my side, I pumped up myself to win the match,” he said.
Later, Keith Patrick Crowley of South Africa and Arun Prakash Rajagopalan defeated Neeraj Elangovan and Ajai Selvaraj 6-4, 7-6(3) for a place in the doubles final.
In the clash for the title, the duo will take on Fariz Mohammed and P. Vignesh, who thrashed top seeds Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Balaji 6-2, 6-0.
Quarterfinals: Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan bt Abdullah Shaik 6-2, 6-2; Karunuday Singh bt Keith Patrick Crowley (RSA) 6-2, 5-7, 6-3; Vijayant Malik bt Vignesh Peranamallur 6-1, 6-2; N. Sriram Balaji bt Jui Chen Hung (Tpe) 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-5.
Doubles: Semifinals: Keith Patrick Crowley & Arun Prakash Rajagopalan bt Neeraj Elangovan & Ajai Selvaraj 6-4, 7-6 (3); Fariz Mohammed & P. Vignesh bt Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan & Sriram Balaji 6-2, 6-0.