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Vardhan, Balaji in title round of ITF meet

Mysore June 8 - Vishnu Vardhan and Sriram Balaji virtually snatched victories from the jaws of defeat in the semi-finals to set up a title clash in the $10,000 Zuari Garden City Mysore ITF Open tennis tournament, here Friday.

Second seeded Vishnu Vardhan defeated No.3 and the Mandya Open finalist Vijayant Malik in an engrossing encounter 6-7(7), 6-2, 7-6 (4) in two hours, 28 minutes after trailing 4-5 and 0-30 in the decider.

In the other semi-final, seventh seed Balaji, after being just three points from defeat, beat eighth seeded Kittiphong Wachiramanowong from Thailand 4-6, 7-6(10), 7-5 in two hours, 40 minutes.

Sriram Balaji and Arun Prakash did an encore by winning the doubles title beating Kunal Anand and Ajai Selvaraj 3-6, 6-1, 10-6 in 58 minutes for their second successive triumph on the back of the Mandya Open title.

Vardhan looked certain to lose with Malik serving for the match in the final set. However, two costly double faults by Malik saw Vardhan bounce back into contention.

In the high voltage contest, Vishnu's firepower with his blistering serve and strong forehand returns was matched by Malik's steady and deep ground strokes.

The opening set went to serve and the inevitable tie-break where Malik jumped to a 4-1 lead to eventually prevail 9-7.

However, Vardhan came charging back with his solid serve and broke Malik in the sixth and the eighth games to wrap up the second set easily at 6-2.

In the decider it was Malik who called the shots initially when he broke in the fifth game and led 5-3. Serving for the match in the 10th game, he led 30-0. Vardhan came up with couple of winners and a double fault by Malik resulted in a deuce.

A flustered Malik committed a second double fault to drop his serve. Vardhan with the set tied at 5-all, blasted two aces for a 6-5 lead. Malik held serve to set up the tie-breaker.

In the tie break, Malik slumped to a 0-4 deficit with a contentious double-fault. Vardhan seized the chance and closed the set and match with Malik hitting wide off the baseline after a superb rally.

Balaji too wriggled out of a tight spot to beat the Thai Davis Cupper. Both played tenacious tennis from the back court, but Balaji was a lot more consistent than an error prone Kittiphong.

In the first set, both traded early breaks with Kittiphong winning the first and Balaji the second. Kittiphong gained a decisive break in the seventh for the first set.

In the second set, both held on to the serve till the tie break that Balaji won 12-10. Kittiphong was in driver seat in the decider leading 5-2 with a break in the sixth. Later, he was serving for the match at 5-3 before heavy showers cried halt to the play.

After the play resumed in 40 minutes, Kittiphong seemed to have lost his rhythm as Balaji charged back and broke his serve in the ninth game and sealed the set with yet another break in the 11th game and served out the match.


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