Australian Open Wildcard Playoff: Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan one win away from a main draw berth in doubles
Indian tennis ace Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan continues his great run of form by reaching the men’s doubles final of the Australian Open Asia-Pacific Wildcard Playoff in Zhuhai, China on Friday. The southpaw, in partnership with Indonesia’s Christopher Rungkat, secured a 6-2 6-3 win over the pair of Vishnu Vardhan and N Sriram Balaji in an all-Indian semi-final contest.
Up next for the second seeded Indo-Indonesian combine is the top seeded Thai pair of Sonchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana.
A win in the final will help Nedunchezhiyan and Rungkat secure their place in the main draw of the 2018 Australian Open. The two started their challenge in this event with a comeback 3-6, 6-3, 10-5 win over the Japanese duo of Hiroki Moriya and Yusuke Takahashi.
The Indo-Indonesian pair played four ATP Challenger tournaments together in the last two months and reached the final in two of them, making it a strong finish to the 2017 season. The two had earlier reached another final in February.
India also had three players -- Sumit Nagal, Vishnu Vardhan and N Sriram Balaji -- vying for the much coveted main draw spot in the men’s singles section. World No. 506 Vishnu Vardhan was the best performer out of the trio and he reached the quarter-finals with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 upset win over the fifth seed T Yang of Chinese Taipei.
Vardhan was next supposed to face the top seed Soon Woo Kwon but he gave a walkover.
Sumit Nagal earlier lost his first round
20-year-old Sumit Nagal had a lot of expectations riding on him following his stunning performance at last week’s Bengaluru Open where he had a string of giant-killing wins to his first ATP Challenger title.
The former junior Wimbledon doubles champion, seeded sixth at the Zhuhai wildcard playoff, had a rude shock when he was sent packing 5-7, 4-6 by the 618th ranked Jurabek Karimov of Uzbekistan in the first round.
N Sriram Balaji too lost his opener, 5-7, 0-6 to the eighth seed Hiroki Moriya. There were no Indians in women’s singles and women’s doubles categories at this event.