Banthia wins Indian leg of Junior French Open wild card event
New Delhi, Apr 27 (PTI) Country's top singles player Siddhant Banthia saved a match point before prevailing over a fighting Mann Maulik Shah to win the Indian leg of the junior French Open wild card tournament and remained in contention for entry into the Clay Court Grand Slam.
The 17-year-old from Pune had to dig deep to eke out a 6-4 2-6 7-6 (3) win over the reigning Under-16 national champion from Ahmedabad after battling hard for more than two hours in searing heat.
The girls event was won by Rashmikaa S Bhamidipaty, who defeated Tanisha Kashyap in 6-4, 6-4.
Banthia, ranked 59 in the world, had won the Indian leg last year as well but a last-minute injury prevented him from participating in the main event in Paris.
In his place, Abhimanyu Vannemreddy, the finalist, had gone to Paris and went on to win the tournament to enter the main draw.
Banthia will now compete with winners from China and Brazil in the final Qualifier to get an entry into the main draw of the junior French Open.
Maulik was down by a set and a break but clawed his way back in the match on the back of some good serves. He even had a match point in the 10th game of the decider but Siddhant used all his experience to wriggle out of the tight situation.
Siddhant used backhand slices to good effect, taking the pace off the ball to test Mann Maulik and it worked for him.
"It's thrilling to win this event. Unfortunately, I missed out last time as I wanted to play Wimbledon and did not want to aggravate the injury. I believed in myself and was in France playing on both hard and clay courts to get ready for this," Banthia, who is coached by Aditya Madkekar, told PTI.
Asked how he pulled it off after losing momentum in the second set, Banthia said, "I let myself down by in the second set. I did not play smart tennis. But I believed in myself because it was only one bad game I played and was down 1-4."
On using his backhand slices to good effect in the third set, Banthia said,"I knew this surface. It was a carpet clay court and not the proper one, so ball was not flying much. I noticed that he was not comfortable when hit those slices, so used it as my weapon."
Banthia said he will start playing on the Pro circuit soon as he targets a few ITF Futures later in the season