Malik knocks out Balaji in Futures tennis

Chennai, May 31 (IANS) Vijayant Malik caused a flutter as he ousted top seed N Sriram Balaji 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6) to set up a title clash with Prajnesh Gunneswaran who overcame Karunuday Singh 7-5, 7-5, in the MPTA ITF Men's Futures tennis tournament here Friday.

Balaji drew some consolation as he, along with Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, outplayed third-seeded Japanese pair of Toshihide Matsui and Bumpei Sato 6-1, 6-4, in the doubles final.

Against third-seeded Malik, Balaji got off to a great start when he broke to lead 4-1 and then 5-2 in the first set. At this point, Balaji lapsed in concentration in the humid heat and allowed Malik to break back twice in a row to level the score at 5-all.

As the set moved into a tiebreak, Balaji was ahead with a mini break 3-1, but Malik once again caught up and went on to clinch the tie breaker 7-5.

In the second set, the players traded breaks in the first two games and then went with the serve till 4-all when Malik broke to nudge ahead 5-4 with the aid of a double-fault. However, Balaji broke back for 5-all with Malik committing two double-faults.

The two held serve to set up another tie-break where Balaji fought back from 2-5 and 4-6 to level before a forehead error and a netted backhand gave Malik the tie-breaker, set and match.

In the other semi-final, the lanky Gunneswaran put up a strong, consistent display of good serving and powerful groundstrokes to put out Karunuday who blew a 3-1 lead in the first set and wilted in the second that went with serves until 5-all. Gunneswaran came up with a break at this stage and went on to close the tie.


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