Kamesh Srinivasan

DEHRA DUN: Nick Monroe of the U.S. kept improving as the match progressed and beat Sunil Kumar 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 in the final of the ONGC $15,000 ITF men's Futures tennis tournament here on Saturday.

It was a welcome relief for Nick as he had lost the final in three sets last week to Karan Rastogi.

Nick seemed to enjoy the high bounce and the slow speed of the surface, as the conditions became heavy following rain in the morning and another spell midway through the match.

In fact, the rain, that interrupted play at 30-30 on Nick's serve at 4-5 in the opening set seemed to have provided a bad turn for the American as he lost the next two points on resumption.

However, it was Sunil who struggled thereafter though the Chandigarh lad started the second set with quality serves. It was a disappointing end as Sunil managed to hold serve only twice afterwards as he got broken five times including thrice on the trot in the second set.

The American was athletic and precise with his shot selection and execution that exasperated the erratic Indian lad who was unable to find the range of his shots and the sting in his serves.

Some drama

There was some drama in the end, to keep the interest alive for the enthusiastic crowd, as a nervous Nick dropped serve at 5-1 in the decider following a couple of doublefaults. Sunil managed to hold serve easily in the next game and saved two matchpoints in the ninth game before putting a forehand return wide that brought the curtains down.

It was the fourth Futures title in five finals for Nick following the successful efforts in Nigeria, Costa Rica and South Africa.

For Sunil, who had won his last Futures title in August 2003 in Tunisia, this is his fifth runner-up title in seven Futures finals. The winner collected $1950 and 18 ATP points and the runner-up won $1350 and 12 ATP points.

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