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Jeevan-Balaji combine takes honours

Sports Reporter
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TEAMWORK PAYS: Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and N. Sriram Balaji had it easy against Toshihide Matsui and Bumpei Sato in the final in Chennai on Friday.— Photo: S.S. Kumar
TEAMWORK PAYS: Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and N. Sriram Balaji had it easy against Toshihide Matsui and Bumpei Sato in the final in Chennai on Friday.— Photo: S.S. Kumar

Top seeds Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and N. Sriram Balaji won the doubles title at the MPTA ITF men’s Futures tennis championship here on Friday.

In a one-sided final, the duo defeated the Japanese pair of Toshihide Matsui and Bumpei Sato 6-1, 6-4.

The first four games of the match saw three breaks of serve — two by the Indians and one by the Japanese. That was the only game Matsui and Sato would win before Jeevan and Balaji, aided by some exceptional service returns, routed them 6-1.

The Tamil Nadu duo broke Matsui and Sato in the fourth game of the second set to go 3-1 up.

Jeevan, after some shaky serving in the first, chose to go for kick serves and drew the receiver wide. It worked as Balaji poached on any looping return that came his way near the net.

Prajnesh in final

Earlier, Prajnesh Gunneswaran continued his giant-killing act with a 7-5, 7-5 victory over Karunuday Singh in the singles semifinals. A break each in the 11th game of each set was enough for the lanky 23-year-old to enter the final.

After playing catch-up for a good part of the first set, fighting back from 1-3 down, the second saw a more confident Prajnesh. Equally adept at both setting-up points and executing winners, he forced Singh to go for the lines more. Singh did hit some exceptional winners but a string of unforced errors completely masked them.

Prajnesh will meet Vijayant Malik in the final on Saturday. Till the semifinal, Malik had spent the least amount of time on court. Every bit of energy saved proved decisive as Malik outlasted Balaji 7-6(5), 7-6(6) under tiring conditions.

Though Balaji raced ahead 5-2 and served for the set twice, Malik reeled off four games in a row. A contentious line call while he was serving at 5-4 rattled Balaji and from then on he never looked the same player, losing both the sets on tie-breaks.

The results: Singles: Semifinals: Prajnesh Gunneswaran bt Karunuday Singh 7-5, 7-5; Vijayant Malik bt N. Sriram Balaji 7-6(5), 7-6(6).

Doubles: Final: Sriram Balaji & Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan bt Toshihide Matsui & Bumpei Sato (Jpn) 6-1, 6-4.

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