Vishnu Vardhan and Sriram Balaji win Shenzen Challenger title

vishnu vardhan
It has been a great season for Vishnu Vardhan
Sudeshna Banerjee

Indian tennis players, Vishnu Vardhan and N Sriram Balaji capped their glorious week at the 2017 Shenzen Longhua Open by winning the title in Shenzen, China on Saturday. The two, who were unseeded, stunned the fourth-seeded American team of Austin Krajicek and Jackson Withrow, 7-6(3), 7-6(3) in the final that lasted 1 hour 19 minutes.

Vardhan and Balaji are the only Indian winners on the ATP circuit this week. This is the third Challenger title of the season for the pair, with their other wins coming at the Chengdu Challenger and the Fergana Challenger earlier in the year.

For the 30-year-old Vardhan, this is his fourth triumph on the ATP Challenger circuit in 2017. Apart from the titles with Balaji, he also teamed up with Toshihide Matsui to win the Astana Challenger.

Vardhan and Balaji were giant-killers all week

The Indians powered six aces in the summit clash and won 85% of their first serve points. Both the teams played well under pressure and there was no break in this match. While Balaji and Vardhan saved the only break point they faced, the Americans did not let their opponents convert any of the four break points they faced. Balaji and Vardhan finished with a total of 74 points while Krajicek and Withrow could only bag 66.

The Indians were giant-killers all week and accounted for three seeded pairs in the four matches they played.

In the first round, they held their nerves for a thrilling 5-7, 6-3, 10-8 victory over the second seeds Cheng-Peng Hsieh and Hsien-Yin Peng of Chinese Taipei. They followed it up with an effortless 6-4, 6-4 win over fellow unseeded pair of Yeymuraz Gabashvili and Hubert Hurkacz to reach the semi-finals.

In the last-four encounter, the Indians displayed their brilliant fighting skills again and ground out a tough 7-6(5), 7-6(4) upset win over the third seeds James Cerretani and Toshihide Matsui.

India’s Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Indonesia’s Christopher Rungkat were the top seeds at this tournament but they suffered a 6-4, 6-7(10), 7-10 shock first round loss at the hands of Riccardo Ghedin and Yaraslav Shyla.

Paes-Raja, Bopanna-Cuevas made early exits this week

Earlier, top seeds Leander Paes and Purav Raja succumbed to a 6-7(2), 2-6 defeat to Denis Kudla and Danny Thomas in the quarter-finals of the Charlottesville Men’s Pro Challenger at Charlottesville, USA.

At the Paris Masters, Rohan Bopanna and Pablo Cuevas too bowed out in the very first round, losing 2-6, 6-7(7) to Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah. The Indo-Uruguayan combine came to the final Masters tournament of the season on the back of a title win at Vienna last week.

Also read: Erste Bank Open: Rohan Bopanna and Pablo Cuevas clinch the title

Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee


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