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Sriranga stuns Ghouse

Sriranga Sudhakar, who ousted the top-seed, Mustafa Ghouse, bends low to retrieve in their pre-quarterfinals match in the ITF Futures tennis championship at Davangere on Wednesday. — Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Sriranga Sudhakar, who ousted the top-seed, Mustafa Ghouse, bends low to retrieve in their pre-quarterfinals match in the ITF Futures tennis championship at Davangere on Wednesday. — Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy  

DAVANGERE Nov.13. It was a big day for qualifier, Sriranga Sudhakar as he pulled of the biggest upset of the day, knocking out the top seed, Mustafa House 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 and entered the quarterfinals of the $10,000 ITF Futures championship at the Davangere Tennis Club courts on Wednesday.

A sparse crowd watched the Bangalore lad, who till recently was studying in the United Stats, pull off the coup with a cool and clinical display. Sriranga really moved, belting volley winners and solid returns, and kept pumping strong serve to put Mustafa under pressure.

The top seed played struggled with his returns and though he blasted aces at random, Ghouse also put in a good deal of double faults. It was Sriranga who showed the flair and fire to roll out as the winner in the well-contested tie.

In the first set, Ghouse missed the bus in the seventh game, after he had Sriranga down at 0-40 and allowed the latter to get out of that tight spot. Sriranga broke him the tenth game that saw a disputed finish.

After Ghouse had saved a break point with a backhand volley at 30-40, he conceded the ground again with a double fault. Sriranga took the next two points, with the last one being a return over lines by Ghouse. The linesman apparently called in, but the chair ruled it out much to the chagrin of Ghouse.

The top seed took the second set with breaks in the first, fifth and ninth games.

Sriranga came back strongly n the decider, playing with lot more focus than Ghouse. He cracked his rival in the third and ninth games and won the match on his first match point with a down the line winner.

"I am pleased to be in the quarterfinals more than beating the top seed. I have played Ghouse in the junior level and it was good to win against him'', said Sriranga.

It was mind over matter for the seasoned campaigner Nitin Kirtane, who still has some tricks left in his sleeve. Kirtane, won the battle of attrition between two southpaws to shut out the National champion and last leg winner at Delhi, Vinod Sridhar 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2) and move into the quarterfinals.

The 144-minute encounter had its share of high drama as both the players, often showing flashes of temper, came up with a highly engrossing fare.

Long rallies and some good stroke-play marked the match, but Sridhar, who played some devastating forehand winners, struggled with his serve and spells of inconsistency, and fatigue in the later part of the tie took the toll of him.

Nitin, at 29, may be the last man standing from the old brigade but trust him to fight for every point and that he did with admirable measure.

He too had problems with his serve and was choking on crucial points especially at the net. But then he gamely held in the long winding encounter, which moved to a tie-breaker climax in which it was Vinod Sridhar who blinked first.

Vinod struggled to find his rhythm in the first set and dropped the set by conceding three service breaks (first,seventh and ninth), though he cracked Nitin once in the eighth game.

But he quickly overcame that reverse, with some big forehands, in the second set and forced his way to a crucial break in the seventh game after stretching Kirtane to three deuces. That virtually set him up the set that he won at 6-3.

The decider saw fortunes sway wildly as both kept breaking each other with a monotonous regularity. Nitin also sought a medical break as he was having a developed ankle problem.

But a section of crowd did not understand his slow walk up to play the subsequent points, which they perceived as an unnecessary procrastination on his part.

That really put off Kirtane, but he gamely carried on. He was up 6-5 after breaking Vinod Sridhar, dropped serve in the 11th game with a double fault and Nitin, true to the run of play, failed to keep the serve and sent the match into a tie-breaker.

In the tie-breaker, Vinod, after a 2-0 lead, came up with some rash mishits and soon found himself staring defeat, trailing 2-6. He simply went through the motions, hitting a return wide to drop the set and match.

An elated Kirtane said "It is good to win like this after a lean trot on this circuit. I could hardly hold me up and going into the tie-breaker, I thought it was all over, but thanks God, it didn't happen and things went my way''.

The other Indians to make the last eight were Harsha Mankad, Vijay Kannan, Ajay Ramaswamy, Manoj Mahadevan and Mustafa Ghouse. The two foreigners who made the quarterfinal round were Kokurin of Uzbeksitan and Boris Borgula.

The third seeded Kannan, after a sluggish start, warmed up to notch a 7-5, 6-3 win over Rishi Sridhar while Harsh Mankad blasted Vishal Punna 6-1, 6-2.

Ajay Ramaswamy also coasted to an easy 6-0, 6-1 win over Shivang Mishra. Manoj Mahadevan, the eighth seed, overcame his Malaysian rival, Yew Ming Si 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-5).

The results (Indians unless specified):

Singles (second round): 3-Vijay Kannan bt Rishi Sridhar 7-5, 6-3; Ajay Ramaswamy bt Shivang Misra 6-0,6-1; 8-Manoj Mahadevan bt Yew Ming Si (Mas) 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-5); 5-Nitin Kirtane bt Vinod Sridhar 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2); Harsh Mankad bt Vishal Punna 6-1, 6-2; Anton Kokurin (Uzb) bt Kamala Kannan 6-4, 6-4; Sriranga Sudhakar bt 1-Mustafa Ghouse 6-4, 3-6, 6-3; Boris Borgula (Sk) bt Somdev Varman 6-1,6-2.

Singles (first round): Sriranga Sudhakar bt Eric Scherer (Aut) 7-5, 7-6 (7-5); Somdev Varman bt Kedar Tembe 7-6 (7-3), 2-6, 7-5; Anton Kokurin bt Juraj Hasko (Svk) 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.

Doubles (quarterfinals): Ajay Ramaswamy & Sunil Kumar Sipaeya bt Vinod Sridhar & Arun Prakash 6-1, 6-4.

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