SPORT

Vijay Kannan pips Sergei Krotiouk

NEW DELHI, NOV. 29. Vijay Kannan played like a champion to pip Sergei Krotiouk of Russia 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3 in the first round of the Satellite tennis circuit Masters at the DLTA Complex here on Monday.

The ONGC employee from Chennai had won the title in a $15,000 tournament at the same venue when he played last time. He played with confidence in a contest in which both the players relied more on their craft, athleticism and all-round ability rather than force.

The pace may not have been much to crow about, but Vijay came up with the shots under pressure and hit a few sharp passing shots to turn the tide in his favour. He also fired 11 aces to assert his authority.

The fighting qualities of Vijay came to the fore in the first set tie-break, though he should have served out the first set as early as in the ninth game. Later, Vijay converted the fifth breakpoint in the eighth game of the decider to avoid any drama in the climax.

If he plays with the same conviction, there is no reason why Vijay cannot get past Krotiouk's doubles partner, second-seeded Alexey Kedriouk of Russia in the second round.

Vijay could not taste success in the doubles as he and Norikazu Sugiyama of Japan lost to the champion of the third leg, Mustafa Ghouse and Vishaal Uppal 6-2, 6-1.

Ajay advances

Ajay Ramaswami was another impressive winner this day, beating Sascha Kloer of Germany 7-6(5), 6-0. The German was disappointed after losing the first set tie-break from 5-2, especially with a doublefault at 5-5. And he gave little resistance in the second set. In fact, Kloer committed a dozen doublefaults in the match.

On losing the first set, Kloer expressed his annoyance by smashing the racquet on the ground and breaking it into two by hitting it further on his knee. Ajay will take on Sugiyama in the next round.

Vivek Shokeen outplayed Punna Vishal, the Davis Cupper who is hampered by a hand injury, while Divij Sharan played a sharp game, especially at the net, in winning ten games in a row after being 2-3 against Kamala Kannan. Divij will next meet fifth-seeded Tobias Koeck of Austria.

Kannan, however, joined Ajay Ramaswami to make the doubles semifinals, beating Konstantin Gruber and Dmitri Makeyev.

The results:

Singles (first round): Vivek Shokeen bt Punna Vishal 6-4, 6-1; Davor Kuseta (Cro) bt Joseph Huber (Aut) 6-4, 6-2; Patrick John Tierro (Phi) bt Andreas Fasching (Aut) 6-3, 7-6(2); Rick Schalkers (Ned) bt Mohammed Shaaban (Egy) 7-6(4), 6-2; Adam Fass (US) bt Sherif Sabry (Egy) 6-4, 4-6, 6-2; Ajay Ramaswami bt Sascha Kloer (Ger) 7-6(5), 6-0; Divij Sharan bt Kamala Kannan 6-3, 6-0; Vijay Kannan bt Sergei Krotiouk (Rus) 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3.

Doubles (quarterfinals): Ajay Ramaswami/Kamala Kannan bt Konstantin Gruber (Aut)/Dmitri Makeyev (Kaz) 7-6(4), 6-2; Mustafa Ghouse/Vishaal Uppal bt Norikazu Sugiyama/Vijay Kannan 6-2, 6-1.

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