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Ramkumar’s brave run ends in Cincinnati


Lucky loser Ramkumar Ramanathan’s impressive run in the $5,244,930 ATP tennis tournament in Cincinnati, was halted by wild card Jared Donaldson 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

Even though he had lost the second and final qualifying round, it was the first time in the tournament Ramkumar, who served 12 aces in the second round, dropped serve. Ramkumar did break serve twice, but only in the second set, while dropping serve once each in the first and third sets.

The effort should augur well for him in the run-up to the US Open and the ensuing Davis Cup World Group play-off against Canada in Edmonton.

The 61 ATP points should also help him enhance his status in the ranking list.

In the ITF women’s tournament in Thailand, former Asian junior champion Pranjala Yadlapalli along with Karman Kaur Thandi progressed into the quarterfinals.

Qualifier Pranjala who beat eighth seed Yuuki Tanaka in three sets will challenge the top seed Luksika Kumkhum of Thailand. Karman cruised past fourth seed Shiho Akita of Japan to set up a quarterfinal against another Japanese Kyoka Okamura.

In the ITF grade-3 junior tournament in Harare, Shrivalli Rashmikaa beat the girls top seed Hala Khaled of Egypt 6-4, 6-4 in the pre-quarterfinals.

The results:

$5,244,930 ATP 1000, Cincinnati, US
Singles (second round): Jared Donaldson (US) bt Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

$15,000 ITF men, Karlsruhe, Germany
Singles (first round): Michael Vrbensky (Cze) bt Tejas Chaukulkar 6-3, 6-0; Niklas Schell (Ger) bt Kunal Anand 6-3, 7-5.

Doubles (pre-quarterfinals): AdrianKohler (Ger) & Tejas Chaukulkar bt Leon Hoeveler (Ger) & Daniel Kopeinigg (Aut) 6-3, 7-6(3); Kunal Anand & Alex Solanki bt Tom El Safadi & Christian Koch (Ger) 6-3, 6-2.

$15,000 ITF men, Vigo, Spain
Singles (pre-quarterfinals): Mikhail Korovin (Rus) bt Anurag Nenwani 6-0, 6-0.

$15,000 ITF men, Nonthaburi, Thailand
Singles (pre-quarterfinals): Blake Ellis (Aus) bt Sidharth Rawat 6-2, 4-6, 7-5; Vijay Sundar Prashanth bt Jumpei Yamasaki (Jpn) 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-3.

Doubles (quarterfinals): Kaza Vinayak Sharma & Vijay Sundar Prashanth bt Arata Onozawa & Masato Shiga (Jpn) 6-3, 6-2.

$25,000 ITF women, Leipzig, Germany
Singles (first round): Ankita Rana bt Bibiane Schoofs (Ned) 6-3, 2-3 (retired).

$25,000 ITF women, Nonthaburi, Thailand
Singles (pre-quarterfinals): Pranjala Yadlapalli bt Yuuki Tanaka (Jpn) 6-1, 6-7(3), 6-2; Karman Kaur Thandi bt Shiho Akita (Jpn) 6-3, 7-5.

ITF juniors grade-3, Harare, Zimbabwe

Girls (pre-quarterfinals): Shrivalli Rashmikaa bt Hala Khaled (Egy) 6-4, 6-4; Myah Petchey (RSA) bt Sharannya Gaware 6-0, 6-0; Marne Dercksen (RSA) bt Annika Kannan 6-2, 6-4; First round: Shrivalli Rashmikaa bt Kimberley Munashe Kaome (Zim) 6-1, 6-1; Sharannay Gaware bt Tshegofatso (Tsiang (Bot) 6-2, 6-1; Annika Kannan bt Danielle Daley
(GBR) 7-5, 6-2.

Doubles (quarterfinals): Sneha Kotecha (Ken) & Tshegofatso Tsiang (Bot) bt Monica Raviraj (GBR) & Shrivalli Rashmikaa 5-7, 7-6(1), 10-5; Pre-quarterfinals: Lana Brezanin (Cro) & Iariniaina Tsantaniony (Mad)
bt Tamara Barad Itzhaki (Isr) & Shrannya Gaware 4-6, 6-2, 10-3; Monica Raviraj (GBR) & Shrivalli Rashmikaa bt Christine Kruger (RSA) & Georgina Moolman (Nam) 7-5, 6-4.


Sandeep sets up quarterfinals against top seed


VM Sandeep kept the Indian hopes alive as he outplayed Aaron Jinks 6-0, 6-2 in the boys pre-quarterfinals of the HSBC Road to Wimbledon UK under-14 tennis championship on the grass courts of Wimbledon on

Sandeep had qualified as the second player from his group as he lost one out of three matches in the league phase. He will run into the top seed Joel Pierleoni in the quarterfinals.

The other Indian boy, Denim Yadav had topped his group but lost the pre-quarterfinals 3-6, 3-6 to Harry Lazell.

In doubles, Sandeep and Denim got a walkover in the pre-quarterfinals.

Both the Indian girls Sandeepti Singh Rao and Sarah Dev made it to the knock-out phase, as No.1 and No.2 respectively.

While Sandeepti recovered after losing the first league match in the super tie-break to win her next two matches and topper on better averages, Sarah Dev lost her last league match in straight sets after being up a break in the first set, and up by two breaks of serve in the second set.

The results:

Boys (pre-quarterfinals): VM Sandeep bt Aaron Jinks 6-0, 6-2; Harry Lazell bt Denim Yadav 6-3, 6-3.

Doubles (pre-quarterfinals): VM Sandeep & denim Yadav w.o. Ralph Barlett & Matthew Gedney.

League: VM Sandeep bt Jack Batchelor 6-2, 6-2; Alexander Knox-Jones bt VM Sandeep 6-3, 6-4; Denim Yadav bt Matthew Rutter 6-4, 3-6, 10-7;
Denim Yadav bt Maxx Graham 6-3, 6-0.


League: Sandeepti Singh Rao bt Jessica Dawson 6-3, 6-2; Sandeepti Singh Rao bt Alicia Dudeney 6-3, 7-6(2); Sarah Dev bt Sofia Johnson 6-0, 6-0; Hannah Smith bt Sarah Dev 7-5, 6-4.


Leander Paes wins Challenger, Yuki Bhambri out of Davis Cup


Leander Paes announced his readiness for the Davis Cup tie against Uzbekistan, by winning the doubles title in the $75,000 Challenger tennis tournament in Mexico on Saturday.

Third seeds, Paes and Adil Shamasdin of Canada outplayed Luca Margaroli of Switzerland and Calo Zamperi of Brazil 6-1, 6-4 in the final.

The title was worth 90 ATP points and $4650. The runners-up collected 55 ATP points and $2700.

It was the first Challenger title of the season for the 43-year-old Paes, who had won two of them last year.

Even though both Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes had been kept as reserves for the tie against Uzbekistan starting in Benglauru on April 7, captain Mahesh Bhupathi conceded that one of them would play.

It had nothing to do with Paes winning the Challenger or Bopanna having the best doubles rank among the Indians, but owing to Yuki Bhambri pulling out with a ‘’knee inflammation’’.

It was not a welcome situation, as the 24-year-old Yuki was easily the best player on view, having been exceptionally consistent in the Challenger circuit in China, when he made two semifinals apart from a quarterfinal.

‘’It is a strain and will keep me out for two to three weeks. Been playing with it in China. Didn’t want to risk anymore since it is too early in the season’’, reasoned Yuki, when contacted.

Obviously, Yuki did not want to undergo the medical fitness test scheduled to be taken in Mumbai prior to the players assembling for the tie in Bengaluru, and conceded that he would not have been able to pass it.

Last season, before he missed more than six months owing to a painful ‘’tennis elbow’’, Yuki had won the Delhi Open Challenger doubles title with Mahesh Bhupathi.

So, the responsibility on Ramkumar Ramanathan, Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Sriram Balaji will increase, even though it may simplify matters related to team composition to a great extent.

Meanwhile, Sania Mirza and Barbora Strycova were beaten 6-4, 6-3 in the final of the Miami Open by Gabriela Dabrowki and Xu Yifan. The women's doubles was the climax of the tournament, after Roger Federer had beaten Rafael Nadal in one of the biggest events after the four Grand Slams.

The unseeded Canada-China pair, which converted three of 10 breakpoints in the match, collected 1000 WTA points and $285,170. Sania and partner, who managed to convert one of nine breakpoints in the final, had to settle for 650 WTA points and $187,970.

The results:
$6,993,450 Miami Open, WTA, US
Doubles (final): Gabriela Dabrowski (Can) & Xu Yifan (Chn) bt Barbora Strycova & Sania Mirza 6-4, 6-3.

$75,000 Challenger men, Leon, Mexico
Doubles (final): Adil Shamasdin (Can) & Leander Paes bt Luca Margaroli (Sui) & Caio Zamperi (Bra) 6-1, 6-4.

$25,000 ITF women, Santa Margherita Di Pula, Italy
Doubles (final): Lina Gjorcheska (Mkd) & Bernarda Pera (US) bt Eva Wacanno (Ned) & Prarthana Thombare 6-2, 6-3.


Indian girls beat Malaysia, get ready for Sri Lanka in WJT


Sandeepti Singh Rao and Sarah Dev played well to help India outplay Malaysia 2-0 in a play-off match for the minor placings in the Asia Oceania World Junior under-14 girls tennis championship in Bangkok on Thursday.

India will next play Sri Lanka in the race for the ninth place.
Korea, China, Thailand and Australia made the semifinals.

The results (play-off): India bt Malaysia 2-0 (Sandeepti Singh Rao bt Zan Ning Lim 6-1, 6-0; Sarah Dev bt Sharifah Wan Abdul Rahman 6-1, 6-3).


Sania Mirza and Strycova in semifinals in Miami


Third seeds Sania Mirza and Barbora Strycova breezed into the doubles semifinals of the $6,993,450 Miami Open with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Vania King of the US and Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan.

The Indo-Czech pair may face Swiss Miss, Martina Hingis and Yung-Jan Chan of Chinese Taipei in the semifinals. Or they may meet Andreja Klepac of Slovenia and María José Martínez Sánchez of Spain, who knocked out World No.1 Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova.

Elsewhere, Karman Kaur Thandi warmed up for the tougher challenges ahead with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-0 victory over Julyette Maria Josephine Steur of Germany, in the $15,000 ITF women's event in Greece.

Rishika Sunkara qualified in singles for the event in Egypt and made the doubles quarterfinals with Ana Veselinovic of Montenegro.

The results:

$6,993,450 Miami Open, WTA, US 
Doubles (quarterfinals): Barbora Strycova (Cze) & Sania Mirza bt Vania King (US) & Yaroslava Shvedova (Kaz) 6-4, 6-1.


Indian boys place fifth in World juniors tennis


Nishant Dabas won both his singles and doubles to outwit Korea 2-1 for the fifth place in the Asia Oceania World Junior under-14 tennis tournament in Bangkok on Saturday.

It was a narrow miss for the Indian team, as the top four teams China, Japan, Australia and Thailand qualified for the World Group final to be staged in Prostejov, Czech Republic in August.

India had lost to Australia in the quarterfinals, after finishing
second in the group following a 1-2 loss to Korea in the last league match.

The results (final): China bt Japan 2-0 (Zheng Boren bt Kokoro Isomura 7-6(5), 6-1; Wang Xiao Fei bt Shintaro Mochizuki 6-3, 6-3).

Third place: Australia bt Thailand 3-0 (Casey Hoole bt Guantinun Sootinun-Opart 6-3, 7-5; Philip Sekulic bt Tanapatt Nirundorn 6-4, 6-1; Casey Hoole & Edward Vo bt Tanapatt Nirundorn & Shisanuphong Pokinsagethasiri 1-6, 6-3, 10-5).

Fifth place: India bt Korea 2-1 (NIshant Dabas bt Song Woodan 4-6, 6-4, 7-5; Divesh Gahlot lost to Jeon Jewon 6-7(7), 3-6; Nishant Dabas & VM Sandeep bt Song Woodan & Yoon Hyeondeok 6-1, 3-6, 10-8)).

The final placings: 1. China, 2. Japan, 3. Australia, 4. Thailand, 5. India, 6. Korea, 7. Chinese Taipei, 8. Syria, 9. New Zealand, 10. Hong Kong, 11. Indonesia, 12. Lebanon, 13. Uzbekistan, 14. Kazakhstan, 15. Sri Lanka, 16. Philippines.


Indian girls place 11th in Junior Fed Cup


The Indian girls took the 11th place as they beat Malaysia 2-0 in the Asia Oceania Junior Fed Cup under-16 tennis tournament at the DLTA Complex on Saturday.

Sai Dedeepya, playing the first singles blanked Juliana Shalini Ganendra, but Humera Shaik had to fight it out after a slow start to win in the third set tie-break.

In the final, Japan outplayed Thailand 2-0, dropping 11 games in all. Chinese Taipei took the third berth for the World Group Finals to be played in Budapest, Hungary, in September, by outwitting Australia 2-1.

The results (final): Japan bt Thailand 2-0 (Nato Sato bt Napatt Nirundorn 6-4, 6-0; Yuki Naito bt Thasaporn Naklo 6-3, 6-4).

Third place: Chinese Taipei bt Australia 2-1 (Joanna Jessie Garland bt Amber Marshall 7-6(5), 6-0; Kuan Yi Lee lost to Olivia Gadecki 6-0, 2-6, 2-6; Joanna Jessie Garland & Kuan Yi Lee bt Olivia Gadecki & Tayla Whitehouse 4-6, 6-1, 10-2).

Play-off 11th place: India bt Malaysia 2-0 (Sai Dedeepya bt Juliana Shalini Ganendra 6-0, 6-0; Sharifah Elsa Wan Abdul Rahman bt Humera Shaik 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(3)).

The final placings: 1. Japan, 2. Thailand, 3. Chinese Taipei, 4. Australia, 5. Hong Kong, 6. China, 7. New Zealand, 8. Uzbekistan, 9. Korea, 10. Indoensia, 11. India, 12. Malaysia, 13. Pacific Oceania, 14. Kazakhstan, 15. Kyrgyzstan, 16. Sri Lanka.


Karman Kaur Thandi wins doubles in Greece

Karman Kaur Thandi in partnership with Mira Antonitsch of Austria outplayed the top seeds Ola Ianchuk of Ukraine and Despina Paramichail of Greece 6-0, 6-3 in the doubles final of the $15,000 ITF women’s tennis tournament in Heraklion, Greece, on Saturday.

It was a remarkable journey for the unseeded pair which had negotiated a tricky quarterfinal, surviving three matchpoints, from being down 3-6, 2-5 against second seeds Charlotte Robillard-Millette and Carol Zhao of Canada.

It compensated for the disappointment for the 18-year-old Karman, seeded seventh in singels, after she lost the first round in straight sets.

It was the third doubles title in the professional circuit for Karman following the two she had won with Dhruthi Venugopal at home in 2015.

It was the second doubles title for the 18-year-old Mira Antonitsch who had won her maiden title in 2015.


Prajnesh Gunneswaran triumphs yet again

Top seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran beat second seed Sriram Balaji 7-5, 6-3 in the final of the $15,000 ITF men’s Futures tennis tournament in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday.

It was the second title in the current series for the 27-year-old Prajnesh from three finals. The Chennai left-hander, Prajnesh converted five of six breakpoints to assert his mastery over Balaji, whom he had beaten six times in nine meetings. Interestingly, the last four meetings have been in finals, and Prajnesh has won three of them. The 325th Prajnesh has six singles titles in all since 2013.

The loss apart, it was a satisfactory series of six successive tournaments for the 27-year-old Balaji who made five finals, winning two titles. He also won four doubles titles with Vishnu Vardhan in five finals. He has won 41 doubles titles in the professional circuit. Thus, he may have strengthened his chances of making the four-member Davis Cup team for the tie against Uzbekistan to be staged in Bengaluru from April 7 to 9.

In fact, Prajnesh has also been quite consistent by making the finals in all the three events that he competed after having tried his luck in the qualifying event of the Dubai ATP event.

The selectors may have a hard time finalising the four, to be announced ten days before the tie, even though the final four could still be revised just before the draw on April 6.


Salsa Aher drives India past Pacific Oceania


Stylish left-hander Salsa Aher bounced back from a twisted ankle to guide India past Pacific Oceania in the last league match of the Asia Oceania Junior Fed Cup under-16 tennis tournament at the DLTA Complex on Wednesday.

Even though the 2-1 victory did not help the team’s cause much, in terms of making it to the knock-out stage as India had lost to Chinese Taipei and Uzbekistan, it was a morale booster for the team.

Salsa won the first singles by dropping two games in all. Humera Shaik who had won her singles matches on the first two days was subdued by Carol Young Suh Lee. However, Salsa and Humera combined very well to outclass the Pacific Oceania pair for the loss of four games.

Incidentally, India had lost the decisive doubles against both Taipei and Uzbekistan.

In the fight for the ninth place, India will first face Kazakhstan on Thursday.

All the seeded teams except Korea made it to the quarterfinals. Japan, New Zealand, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Uzbekistan, Australia and Thailand were joined by the unseeded China, which otherwise is a strong team in the region.

Only the top three teams from the tournament will make it to the World Group Finals to be staged in Budapest, Hungary, in September.

The results (league): India bt Pacific Oceania 2-1 (Salsa Aher bt Naia Guitton 6-1, 6-1; Humera Shaik lost to Carol Young Suh Lee 1-6, 2-6; Salsa Aher & Humera Shaik bt Naia Guitton & Carol Young Suh Lee 6-4, 6-0).


Indian boys take on Australia in WJT


The Indian boys lost to Korea 1-2, but they had already ensured their entry into the quarterfinals of the Asia Oceania World Junior under-14 tennis tournament in Bangkok, on Wednesday.

Divesh Gahlot gave a fighting start for india by winning the first rubber against Woodan Song in two hours and 47 minutes. But, VM Sandeep could not reproduce such a performance in the second singles or later in doubles in partnership with Nishant Dabas.

In the quarterfinals, India will play Australia. The other quarterfinals will feature China vs Syria, Thailand vs Korea and ChineseTaipei vs Japan.

The results (league): Korea bt India 2-1 (Woodan Song lost to Divesh Gahlot 5-7, 7-5, 4-6; Jewon Jeon bt VM Sandeep 6-1, 6-1; Jewon Jeon & Hyeondeok Yoon bt Nishant Dabas & VM Sandeep 6-2, 6-4).


Yuki Bhambri in Challenger pre-quarterfinals


Yuki Bhambri beat Tatsuma Ito of Japan 7-6(2), 6-2 in the first round of the $50,000 Challenger tennis tournament in China on Tuesday.

In the pre-quarterfinals, the 24-year-old Yuki will play fourth seed Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia.

Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan joined hands with Christopher Rungkat of Indonesia to beat the Chinese wild cards Di Wu and Zhizhen Zhang in two tie-break sets.

Davis Cupper Ramkumar Ramanathan lost in the third and final qualifying round of a similar Challenger in Mexico, in three tough sets to Alex De Minaur of Australia.

In the ITF men’s Futures in Bahrain, Shahbaaz Khan capitalised on his lucky loser entry to make the pre-quarterfinals by outplaying a local wild card entrant for the loss of one game.

In the $15,000 ITF women’s event in Greece, seventh seed Karman Kaur Thandi was beaten 6-4, 7-5 by qualifier Michaela Boev of Belgium.

The results:

$50,000 Challenger men, Quanzhou, China
Singles (first round): Yuki Bhambri bt Tatsuma Ito (Jpn) 7-6(2), 6-2.
Doubles (pre-quarterfinals): Christopher Rungkat (Ina) & Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan bt Di Wu & Zhizhen Zhang (Chn) 7-6(5), 7-6(5).

$50,000 Challenger men, Guadalajara, Mexico
Qualifying singles (third and final round): Alex De Minaur (Aus) bt Ramkumar Ramanathan 7-6(2), 5-7, 6-4.

$15,000 ITF men, Heraklion, Greece
Singles (first round): Alex Molcan (Svk) bt Sathi Reddy Chirala 6-1, 6-0.

$15,000 ITF men, Manama, Bahrain
Singles (first round): Shahbaaz Khan bt Abdul Rahman Janahi (Brn) 6-0, 6-1.
Doubles (pre-quarterfinals): Anderson Reed & Matt Seeberger (US) bt Isa Mammetgulyyev (Tkm) & Shahbaaz Khan 6-2, 4-6, 10-5.

$15,000 ITF women, Heraklion, Greece
Singles (first round): Michaela Boev (Bel) bt Karman Kaur Thandi 6-4, 7-5.
Doubles (pre-quarterfinals): Olga Ianchuk (Ukr) & Despina Papamichail (Gre) bt Laura Pous Tio (Esp) & Tanisha Rohira 6-2, 6-2.

$15,000 ITF women, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
Doubles (pre-quarterfinals): Emilie Francati (Den) & Nina Kruijer (Ned) bt Natasha Palha & Rishika Sunkara 7-5, 6-4; Qianxin Kong (Chn) & Ramya Natarajan bt Jawairiah Noordin & Theiviya Selvarajoo (Mas) 4-6, 6-4, 10-8.


Indian boys reach quarterfinals in World Junior Tennis


The Indian boys beat Uzbekistan 3-0 to ensure a quarterfinal berth in the Asia Oceania World Junior under-14 tennis tournament in Bangkok on Tuesday.

It was the second victory for India after the one over Kazakhstan. India will play Korea on Wednesday to decide the group topper. Incidentally, both India and Korea have not dropped a set in two matches each.

The results (league): India bt Uzbekistan 3-0 (Nishant Dabas bt Abdurakhmov Saidmukhamedov 7-5, 6-2; VM Sandeep bt Samandar Abdumalikov 6-4, 7-5; Nishant Dabas & Divesh Gahlot bt Samandar Abdumalikov & Fayzullo Mirzaganiev 6-4, 6-2).


Indian boys open with a win in World Junior tennis


The Indian boys opened their challenge in a strong fashion by beating Kazakhstan 3-0 in a group-C league match of the Asia Oceania World Junior under-14 tennis tournament in Bangkok on Monday.

Divesh Gahlot and VM Sandeep dropped only two games each in winning the singles matches, and the doubles was a little more competitive when Nishant Dabas partnered Sandeep.

India will play Uzbekistan on Tuesday and Korea on Wednesday, in its attempt to make the knock-out phase.

The results (league): India bt Kazakhstan 3-0 (Divesh Gahlot bt Nikita Sidorov 6-0, 6-2; VM Sandeep bt Timur Chsherbokov 6-2, 6-0; Nishant Dabas & VM Sandeep bt Nikita Sidorov & Daniyal Taskali 6-4, 7-5).

The groupings:
Pool-A: Chinese Taipei, China, Hong Kong, Lebanon.
Pool-B: New Zealand, Japan, Syria, Philippines.
Pool-C: India, Korea, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan.
Pool-D: Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka.


Indian girls seek to qualify in Junior Fed Cup tennis


A brand new Indian team with a new captain will attempt to fight its way towards qualification in the Asia Oceania Junior Fed Cup under-16 girls tennis tournament, starting at the DLTA Complex on Monday.

With Mahak Jain and Shivani Amineni, who had helped the Indian team qualify for the World Group last year, not available this time owing to various reasons, it will be a good chance for players like Salsa Aher and Sai Dedeepya to assert their ability.

In fact, Humera Shaikh, the tall girl from Hyderabad with considerable potential, and Salsa Aher the national sub-junior champion, had opted to skip their tenth standard exams to be part of the national squad.

Captain Arati Natekar, who had represented the country in Fed Cup in the company of Nirupama Sanjeev and Rushmi Chakravarthi, said that she was looking forward to the girls playing their best, without feeling the pressure.

‘’We had good two sessions today. We are playing Chinese Taipei in the first match tomorrow. It is a good team. Since our girls are representing the country for the first time at this level, we will get to know them through the matches’’, observed Arati, quite happy to be back in the tennis circle.

Arati had quit in 1996, as there was not much scope for women tennis players to have a professional career, and had later married Davis Cupper Gaurav Natekar. The recent Davis Cup in Pune, and a stand being named after Gaurav Natekar, had brought Arati back into the tennis fold.

Eighth seed Uzbekistan and Pacific Oceania will be the other teams in group-D along with India and the third seed Chinese Taipei.

Since New Zealand had finished 16th in the last edition in the World Group Finals, incidentally beaten by India, only three teams will qualify for the World Group this time, instead of four.

That makes it so much difficult for the girls from 16 countries.

Arati hoped that the host would at least be able to qualify for the knock-out featuring eight teams, two each from the four groups, and take it forward from there.

The Indian boys had disappointed by finishing tenth last week in the Junior Davis Cup, and it is time for the girls to fare better.

The groupings:
Pool-A: Japan, China, Sri Lanka, Korea.
Pool-B: Thailand, Malaysia, Kyrgyzstan, New Zealand.
Pool-C: Australia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Hong Kong.
Pool-D: Chinese Taipei, Pacific Oceania, India, Uzbekistan.


India tenth, Japan champion in Junior Davis Cup


The Indian boys were beaten 2-0 by New Zealand for the ninth place in the Asia Oceania Junior Davis Cup under-16 tennis tournament at the DLTA Complex on Saturday.

India had beaten New Zealand for its only victory in the league phase. However, Rithvik Choudary Bollipalli who came in for Sashank Theertha lost the opening rubber. Equallly, Sacchitt Sharma who had recovered from a precarious position in the league match against George Duncan Stoupe lost rather tamely this time after winning the first set in the tie-break.

India had lost to Hong Kong and Japan in the league, and had beaten Indonesia and Malaysia in the play-off for minor placings.

Japan prevailed by the strength of its strong doubles combination as it beat Australia 2-1 for the title. The top four teams from the 16 countries which competed here, Japan, Australia, ChineseTaipei and China made it to the World Group Finals to be played in Budapest, Hungary, in September.

The results (final): Japan bt Australia 2-1 (Keisuke Saitoh bt Stefan Storch 6-1, 6-3; Fumiya Hoshino lost to Rinky Hijakata 4-6, 6-4, 6-2; Tomoya Ikeda & Fumiya Yoshino bt Ken Cavrak & Stefan Storch 6-4, 6-4).

Ninth place: New Zealand bt India 2-0 (Chris Wei Sheng Zhang bt Rithvik Choudary Bollipalli 6-4, 6-4; George Duncan Stoupe bt Sacchitt Sharma 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-0).

The final standings: 1. Japan, 2. Australia, 3. Chinese Taipei, 4. China, 5. Korea, 6. Hong Kong, 7. Thailand, 8. Uzbekistan, 9. New Zealand, 10. India, 11. Indonesia, 12. Singapore, 13. Philippines, 14. Kazakhstan, 15. Malaysia, 16. Syria.


Sriram Balaji beats Prajnesh Gunneswaran for title

Second seed Sriram Balaji beat top seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the final of the $15,000 ITF men’s Futures tennis tournament in Bengaluru on Saturday.

Prajnesh had won the title last week beating Ballaji, while the latter had won the one in Jorhat earlier and lost to Yuki in the final in Chandigarh.

It was the ninth career singles title in the professional circuit for Balaji, who was winning his first match in the last six meetings against Prajnesh. He has improved to a 3-5 win-loss record against Prajnesh in the international circuit.

Earlier, after three successive doubles titles with Vishnu Vardhan, Balaji and partner were beaten by the Sood twins, Chandril and Lakshit, in the final.

The results:

Singles (final): Sriram Balaji bt Prajnesh Gunneswaran 2-6, 6-3, 6-4; Semifinals: Prajnesh Gunneswaran bt Sami Reinwein (Ger) 6-4, 6-4; Sriram Balaji bt Karunuday Singh 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Doubles (final): Chandril Sood & Lakshit Sood bt Sriram Balaji & Vishnu Vardhan 2-6, 6-4, 10-6.


India beats Malaysia in the race for ninth place


The Indian boys beat Malaysia 3-0 in the positional match for lower places in the Asia Oceania Junior Davis Cup under-16 tennis tournament at the DLTA Complex here on Thursday.

In the next match, in the ongoing race for the ninth spot from among 16 teams, India will play Indonesia.

Chinese Taipei, Japan, Australia and China won their quarterfinals and qualified for the World Group Finals to be played in Budapest, Hungary, in September.

In the semifinals, Chinese Taipei will play Japan while Australia will face China.

The results:

Quarterfinals: Chinese Taiipei bt Thailand 2-0 (Chang Lin Tsai bt Thantub Suksumran 6-3, 6-4; Chun Hsin Tseng bt Natthayut Nithithananont 6-1, 6-1).
Japan bt Korea 2-0 (Keisuke Saitoh bt Kim Dongju 5-7, 6-1, 7-5; Tomoya Ikeda bt Kim Geunjun 6-4, 6-4).
China bt Hong Kong 2-0 (Zhou Xinmu bt Wai Yu Kaii 6-4, 6-1; Buyun Chaokete bt Ki Lung Roger Ng 6-1, 6-1).
Australia bt Uzbekistan 2-0 (Stefan Storch bt Azamat Lukmanov 6-2, 6-2; Rinky Hijakata bt Sergey Fomin 7-6(3), 6-4).

Play-off: India bt Malaysia 3-0 (Rithvik Choudary Bollipalli bt Takeshi Koay Jian Kong 7-6(2), 6-1; Sacchitt Sharma bt Naufal Siddiq Kamarazzaman 6-2, 6-0; Rithvik Choudary Bollipalli & Sashank Theertha bt Takeshi Koay Jian Kong & Daarshan Suresh 4-6, 6-1, 10-5).


Sacchitt Sharma wins a thriller; India beats New Zealand


Sashank Theertha and Sacchitt Sharma found their best game in time to get India past New Zealand with a 2-1 victory in the league phase of the Asia-Oceania Junior Davis Cup under-16 boys tennis tournament at the DLTA Complex here on Tuesday.

Sacchitt Sharma, who had won the UK under-14 tennis championship on the grass courts of Wimbledon in 2015, continued to assert his all-round game as he won his singles match for the second time in two days.

It was a crucial victory as India continued to lose its grip in the doubles. Hong Kong had beaten India by winning the decisive doubles and that has put a big question mark over India qualifying for the knock-out phase.

Japan won its second match on the trot and will be ready for India in the last league match on Wednesday.

In such a scenario, Hong Kong, coached by the former Indian Davis Cupper Karan Rastogi, may fancy its chances better to qualify along with Japan from the group.

Sacchitt Sharma may be able to turn the tide, if he plays the way he did against the Kiwi No.1 George Duncan Stoupe from a precarious position of 4-6, 1-4.

After being hesitant with his strokes, Sacchitt attacked without a hitch to expose the limitations of the New Zealander. It was a courageous fare, as the Kiwi was serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set. In the decider, Sacchitt ran up a 5-1 lead before going through some anxious moments.

Earlier, the big-serving Sashank Theertha with a fierce forehand, was tentative at the start before stepping it up to play a robust game against Chris Wei Sheng Zhang.

The results (league): India bt New Zealand 2-1 (Sashank Theertha bt Chris Wei Sheng Zhang 4-6, 6-2, 6-2; Sacchitt Sharma bt George Duncan Stoupe 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-3; Rithvik Choudary Bollipalli & Sacchitt Sharma lost to George Duncan Stoupe & Chris Wei Sheng Zhang 3-6, 6-3, 7-10).


Prajnesh Gunneswaran triumphs


Top seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran beat second seed Sriram Balaji 6-4, 6-2 in just over an hour in the final of the $15,000 ITF men’s Futures tennis tournament at the BSP Tennis complex on Saturday.

It was the fifth singles title in the professional circuit for the
27-year-old Prajnesh, ranked 342, and his fifth victory on the trot over Balaji in the professional circuit. Balaji had won the first round of Chennai Challenger in 2014 for the second of his two wins over Prajnesh in seven meetings.

The 26-year-old Balaji recovered from a slow start to lead 4-3, but Prajnesh won the next three games to take the first set. In the second, Prajnesh conceded two points in all while winning the first four games which firmly pulled the contest in his favour.

The loss in the final apart, it has been a good run for Balaji, who had finished runner-up to Yuki Bhambri in the first tournament of the current series at home. He won the next, beating Vishnu Vardhan in Jorhat. After losing second round in the third event in Guwahati, he did well to reach the final. Along the way, Balaji also won three doubles titles on the trot with Vishnu.

On the other hand, Prajnesh had rested and trained after the Davis Cup tie against New Zealand in Pune before joining the circuit in the fourth tournament.

The players have two more events at home over the next fortnight in Bengaluru and Thiruvananthanpuram.


Yuki Bhambri cruises past Blaz Kavcic in Zhuhai Challenger


Yuki Bhambri continued to impress as he dismissed fifth seed Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia with a 6-1, 6-4 victory in the pre-quarterfinals of the $50,000 Challenger tennis tournament in China on Thursday.

Yuki converted five of seven breakpoints and dropped serve once in the match on facing two breakpoints, against the 147th ranked Slovenian, who has won 14 Challenger singles titles and was ranked a career-best 68 in 2012.

The 24-year-old Yuki, who has dropped only seven games in all in two rounds so far, will play Agustin Velotti of Argentina in the quarterfinals.

Meanwhile, in the $15,000 women’s event in Egypt, Sai Samhitha saved four matchpoints to beat seventh seed Yana Sizikova of Russia 4-6, 7-6(3), 7-5.

It was a remarkable fight back by Sai, who had finished runner-up in the national championship to Prerna Bhambri in 2015, as she trailed 4-6, 3-5 at one stage and saved four matchpoints over the next two games. She missed two setpoints in the 12th game but served two of her four aces in the match in the tie-break to get even.

In the decider, Sai ran up a 5-3 lead but missed a matchpoint in the ninth game, and later four more matchpoints in the 12th game, before she served out the match that lasted nearly three hours.

In a tough match in which Sai converted three of eight breakpoints and saved six of nine breakpoints, she won 119 points to 123 by her opponent. Sai won the decisive points in the second set tie-break that turned the match around.
It was a revenge victory for Sai, as the Russian had beaten her in Egypt in 2014.

In the ITF grade-1 junior event in Thailand, second seed Zeel Desai was beaten 6-2, 6-3 by the 15-year-old fifth seed Xin Yu Wang of China in the girls quarterfinals.

The results:
$50,000 Challenger men, Zhuhai, China
Singles (pre-quarterfinals): Yuki Bhambri bt Blaz Kavcic (Slo) 6-1, 6-4.

$15,000 ITF women, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
Singles (pre-quarterfinals): Sai Samhitha bt Yana Sizikova (Rus) 4-6, 7-6(3), 7-5.

Doubels (pre-quarterfinas): Ola Abou Zekry (Egy) & Anette Munozova (Swe) bt Dan Ni Wang (Chn) & Sai Samhitha 6-3, 6-3.

ITF grade-1 juniors, Nonthaburi, Thailand
Girls (quarterfinals): Xin Yu Wang (Chn) bt Zeel Desai 6-2, 6-3.


Zeel Desai sustains progress in ITF junior event


Second seed Zeel Desai emerged the only Indian to make the quarterfinals of the ITF grade-1 junior tennis tournament in Nonthaburi, Thailand, on Wednesday.

The 18-year-old Zeel who had won an ITF women’s tournament last week in Gwalior, beat Fiona Ganz of Switzerland 6-3, 6-4 in the pre-quarterfinals.

Mahak Jain who had made the ITF women’s final against Zeel, was beaten in the pre-quarterfinals in three sets by another Swiss girl Simona Waltert, while Akanksha Bhan was outplayed by Naho Sato of Japan after she had beaten the seventh seed Yang Lee of Chinese Taipei in the earlier round.

In the boys section, Siddhant Banthia and Parikshit Somani were beaten early.

The results:

Boys (second round): Kody Pearson (Aus) bt Siddhant Banthia 7-5, 6-0; First round: Kai Kawano (Jpn) bt Parikshit Somani 6-1, 6-1.

Doubles (second round): John Bryan Decasa Otico (Phi) & Seita Watanabe (Jpn) bt Yeongseok Jeong (Kor) & Siddhant Banthia 7-6(1), 6-1; First round: Taisei Ichikawa & James Kent Trotter (Jpn) bt Hua-Chen Yu (Tpe) & Parikshit Somani 3-6, 6-1, 10-7.

Girls (pre-quarterfinals): Simona Waltert (Sui) bt Mahak Jain 6-3, 3-6, 6-1; Naho Sato (Jpn) bt Akanksha Bhan 6-1, 6-0; Zeel Desai bt Fiona Ganz (Sui) 6-3, 6-4.

Second round: Mahak Jain bt Rina Saigo (Jpn) 6-1, 6-7(11),
6-1; Akanksha Bhan bt Yang Lee (Tpe) 7-6(1), 2-6, 6-3; Zeel Desai bt Sakura Hosogi (Jpn) 0-6, 6-1, 6-3.

First round: Akanksha Bhan bt Lunda Kumhom (Tha) 7-6(1), 2-6, 6-3.

Doubles (second round): Olivia Gadecki (Aus) & Himari Sato (Jpn) bt Simona Waltert (Sui) & Zeel Desai 7-5, 2-6, 11-9; First round:
Adrienn Nagy(Hun) & Lexie Stevens (Ned) bt Mai Napart Nirundorn (Tha) & Akanksha Bhan 6-3, 7-5; Thasaporn Naklo (Tha) & Sohyun Park (Kor) bt Lisa Mays (Aus) & Mahak Jain 6-3, 6-2.


Prajnesh outplays Mohit Mayur in ITF Futures


Top seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran continued with his fluent run and outplayed former national champion Mohit Mayur 6-2, 6-3 in the pre-quarterfinals of the $15,000 ITF men’s Futures tennis tournament at the BSP Tennis Complex on Wednesday.

In the quarterfinals, Prajnesh, who finds himself in the six-member Davis Cup squad for the tie against Uzbekistan next month, along with Sriram Balaji, will play German Pirmin Haenle.

The champion last week in Guwahati, fourth seed Sasi Kumar Mukund got past Tejas Chaukulkar to set up a repeat of the final against Sami Reinwein of Germany.

Vishnu Vardhan, Sidharth Rawat, Siddharth Vishwakarma and second seed Sriram Balaji were the others to make the quarterfinals.

The results:

Singles (pre-quarterfinals): Prajnesh Gunneswaran bt Mohit Mayur 6-2, 6-3; Pirmin Haenle (Ger) bt Suraj Prabodh 6-1, 7-6(4); Vishnu Vardhan bt Vijayant Malik 6-1, 6-0; Sidharth Rawat bt Sivadeep Kosaraju 6-1, 6-0; Sami Reinwein (Ger) bt Alexis Canter 6-2 6-2; Sasi Kumar Mukund bt Tejas Chaukulkar 7-5, 6-4; Siddharth Vishwakarma bt Rishab Agarwal 4-6, 6-3, 6-1; Sriram Balaji bt Vasisht Cheruku 6-3, 6-2.

Doubles (quarterfinals): Sriram Balaji & Vishnu Vardhan bt Mohit Mayur & Niki Poonacha 7-6(3), 6-2; Pirmin Haenle (Ger) & Rishab Agarwal bt Alexis Canter (GBR) & Daniiar Duldaev (Kgz) 6-3, 6-2; Kunal Anand & Anvit Bendre bt Aryan Goveas & Sasi Kumar Mukund 6-2, 6-1; Alexander Centenari (US) & Sami Reinwein (Ger) bt Jeson Patrombon (Phi) & Tejas Chaukulkar 3-6, 6-2, 11-9.


Prajnesh Gunneswaran strengthens field in Bhilai, as top seed


Prajnesh Gunneswaran will strengthen the field in the $15,000 ITF men’s Futures tennis tournament to be played at the BSP Tennis Complex from Monday.

The 27-year-old Chennai left-hander has been busy in the Challenger circuit and had failed to capitalise on the matchpoints against Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in a marathon match of the Australian Open wild card event in China.

With India set to play Uzbekistan in Davis Cup at home in April, everyone knows how well Istomin had capitalised on the wild card to beat Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open.

It also tells a lot about not gauging a player with his world rank of 341. With a six-member team likely to be announced for Davis Cup on Monday, the players may not be able to impress the selectors any more at the moment.

Yet, it will be another good event for the Indian players to improve their rank before they venture out to face the tougher challenges.

Yuki Bhambri, Sriram Balaji and Sasi Kumar Mukund had won the first three tournaments in the current circuit and it will be interesting to see whether another Indian player encashes the winner’s cheque.

The seedings: 1. Prajnesh Gunneswaran, 2. Sriram Balaji, 3. Vishnu Vardhan; 4. Sasi Kumar Mukund, 5. Sami Reinwein (Ger) 6. Sidharth Rawat, 7. , 8. Jose Fco. Vidal Azorin (Esp).

The results:
Qualifying singles (second and final round): Paramveer Singh Bajwa bt Rishi Reddy 6-4, 6-3; Vasisht Cheruku bt Anirudh Chandrasekar 6-4, 7-5; Alexis Canter (GBR) bt Gokul Suresh 6-0, 6-1; Sivadeep Kosaraju bt Rohan Bhatia 6-2, 6-0; BR Nikshep bt Taha Kapadia 6-4, 4-6, 6-2; Daniar Duldaev (Kgz) bt Sai Saran Reddy 6-2, 6-3; Ankit Chopra bt Arnav Alok Goel 6-1, 6-4; Abhinansu Borthakur bt Kunal Vazirani 6-3, 6-4.


Zeel Desai beats Mahak Jain for ITF women's title


Eighth seed Zeel Desai beat wild card Mahak Jain 6-3, 7-5 to clinch her maiden ITF women’s title on Saturday.

The Australian Open junior quarterfinalist, the 18-year-old Zeel did miss a matchpoint and dropped serve in the tenth game of the second set, but scotched all hopes with a clinical performance in the climax.

Having been beaten by the 14-year-old Mahak in the ITF grade-2 junior final after a whirlwind start in Delhi before the Australian Open earlier this season, the tall Zeel, coached by Todd Clark, handled the challenge with due respect to her opponent.

After dropping a set each to Eetee Maheta and Ramya Natarajan in the first two rounds, Zeel had stepped it up to outplay the national hard and grass court champion Riya Bhatia in the quarterfinals. She had quelled the challenge of Swiss qualifier Lulu Radovcic in straight sets in the semifinals.

On the other hand, Mahak had got past top seed Fatma Al Nabhani of Oman in the semifinals, after fighting past qualifier Bhuvana Kalva. She had cruised past Amrita Mukherjee and seventh seed Sri Vaishnavi Peddi Reddy in the earlier rounds in justifying her wild card.

It was a strong statement by Zeel and Mahak, ranked 31 and 55 in the world among the juniors, who will focus on the grade-1 junior tournaments in Asia, before they train their attention towards the professional women’s circuit.


Sasi Kumar Mukund wins third ITF men's singles title


The Commonwealth Youth champion Sasi Kumar Mukund beat Sami Reinwein of Germany 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in the final of the $15,000 ITF men’s Futures tennis tournament on Saturday.
It was the third singles title in the professional circuit for the 20-year-old Mukund who had won a title each in the last two years, one at home and one in Indoensia.

‘’I am happy with this title because I had not made the final for two years in India’’, said Mukund.

In a well contested final, Mukund played sharp at the start to take a 2-0 lead with a break in the second game, which proved decisive in helping him clinch the set.

Mukund conceded that he had become defensive midway through the second set, which saw him lose four games on the trot, and losing that set.

However, in the decider Mukund did not give his opponent any chance and tightened his grip after going up a break in the fifth game. Mukund converted two of five breakpoints that he forced. He dropped serve twice in the second set, but did not offer a single breakpoint to the 24-year-old German in the first or third sets.

After losing the semifinals to Vishnu Vardhan in Jorhat last week and the quarterfinals to Haadin Bava rather tamely in Chandigarh earlier, it was a welcome title for Mukund. He gave credit to coach Aditya Sachdeva in Delhi for guiding him. He also praised the travelling coach Manu Bajpai who has been working with him for three weeks.

Mukund had also made two semifinals of doubels in three weeks. He will play the fourth ITF men’s event in the Indian circuit in Bhilai next week.

The results (final): Sasi Kumar Mukund bt Sami Reinwein (Ger) 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.


Malikaa and Sandeep for World Junior Tennis


Malikaa Marathe and VM Sandeep will spearhead the Indian under-14 teams in the Asia-Oceania World Junior tennis tournament to be played in Bangkok.

The boys event will be played from March 20 and the girls event from March 27.

The teams:
Boys: VM Sandeep, Divesh Gahlot, Nishant Dabas. Captain: S. Narendranath.

Girls: Malikaa Marathe, Sarah Dev, Gargi Pawar. Captain: Radhika Tulpule.


Zeel Desai shocks national champion Riya Bhatia


The best Indian junior girl in the country Zeel Desai asserted her growing game by beating the national champion and second seed Riya Bhatia 6-4, 6-3 in the quarerfinals of the ITF women’s tennis tournament at the City Centre Tennis Complex on Thursday.

Bubbling with confidence after her fine run in the Australian Open juniors, Zeel competntly tackled Riya who had represented the country in the recent Fed Cup in Kazakhstan.

In keeping with the trend, the dimunitive Mahak Jain, another bright young girl stopped the fine run of qualifier Bhuvana Kalva in three sets.

Sai Samhitha had the top seed Fatma Al Nabhani of Oman on the hook, but let her escape to victory in three sets.

In the semifinals, Mahak will play Fatma while Zeel will challenge the Swiss Lulu Radovcic.

The results:

Singles (quarterfinals): Fatma Al Nabhani (Oma) bt Sai Samhitha 4-6, 7-5, 6-2; Mahak Jain bt Bhuvana Kalva 5-7, 6-3, 6-4; Lulu Radovcic (Sui) bt Natasha Palha 6-3, 6-0; Zeel Desai bt Riya Bhatia 6-4, 6-3.

Doubles (semifinals): Natasha Palha & Rishika Sunkara bt Alexandra Walters (Aus) & Shivika Burman 4-6, 6-2, 10-5; Riya Bhatia & Shweta Rana bt Prerna Bhambri & Nidhi Chilumula 6-3, 7-5.

Quarterfinals: Natasha Plaha & Rishika Sunkara bt Sai Samhitha & Amrita Mukherjee 6-0, 6-3; Prerna Bhambri & Nidhi Chilumula bt Rushmi chakravarthi & Eetee Maheta 7-6(4), 4-6, 10-6.


Vishnu Vardhan serves his best at the crunch to make semifinals


Second seed Vishnu Vardhan was stretched to his wit’s end by Vijay Sundar Prashanth but wriggled out with a 6-3, 6-7(9), 6-4 victory in the quarterfinals of the $15,000 ITF men’s Futures tennis tournament on Thursday.

Vishnu missed three matchpoints in the second set, but gave credit to his opponent for stepping it up on the key moments.

‘’On one of those points, I served and made a drop volley. I don’t know how he came and lobbed over me’’, recalled Vishnu after enduring a tough battle that lasted three hours and 20 minutes.

In the decider, Vishnu broke Prashanth’s serve in the tenth game to clinch the contest. He will play compatriot Sasi Kumar Mukund who beat Sidharth Rawat in straight sets.

The other semifinal will be between Shane Vinsant of the US and Sami Reinwein of Germany. The latter subdued Sanam Singh for the loss of three games.

In doubles, Vishnu in partnership with Sriram Balaji made the semifinals., whereas Sanam Singh and Vijay Sundar Prashanth reached the final.

The results:

Singles (quarterfinals): Shane Vinsant (US) bt Jose Fco-Vidal Azorin (Esp) 6-4, 6-2; Sami Reinwein (Ger) bt Sanam Singh 6-1, 6-2; Sasi Kumar Mukund bt Sidharth Rawat 6-3, 6-4; Vishnu Vardhan bt Vijay Sundar Prashanth 6-3, 6-7(9), 6-4.

Doubels (semifinals): Sanam Singh & Vijay Sundar Prashanth bt Alexander Centenari (US) & Sami Reinwein (Ger) 6-4, 6-2.
Quarterfinals: Sriram Balaji & Vishnu Vardhan bt Mateusz Terczynski (Pol) & Jose Fco. Vidal Azorin (Esp) 7-6(5), 6-1; Vijay Sundar Prashanth & Sanam Singh bt Pirmin Haenle (Ger) & Shane Vinsant (US) 7-5, 6-2.


Sriram Balaji wins a double crown in ITF Futures


Sriram Balaji won a double crown as he clinched the singles title beating Vishnu Vardhan, and partnered him to win the doubles title in the $15,000 ITF men’s Futures tennis tournament on Saturday.

After a good start, Balaji eased to a 6-2, 7-6(1) victory. In the doubles Balaji and Vishnu prevailed 10-6 in the super tie-break against Mohit Mayur and Vijay Sundar Prashanth.

It was the eighth Futures singles title for Balaji. Interestingly, it was only his fourth victory over Vishnu in ten meetings in the professional circuit, and the first time in a final. Vishnu who had lost to Balaji in the National championship final, had beaten him in two previous finals in the professional circuit, including one last year.

It was the second successive singles final for Balaji who had lost to Yuki Bhambri last week in Chandigarh.

Both Balaji and Vishnu have won dozens of doubles titles.

The results (finals):
Singles: Sriram Balaji bt Vishnu Vardhan 6-2, 7-6(1).

Doubles: Sriram Balaji & Vishnu Vardhan bt Mohit Mayur & Vijay Sundar Prashanth 7-6(5), 4-6, 10-6.


Divesh Gahlot and Sudipta Senthil Kumar triumph on the Road to Wimbledon

Divesh Gahlot and Sudipta Senthil Kumar won the boys and girls titles in the fourth leg of the Road to Wimbledon National series under-14 tennis tournament on the grass courts of South Club in Kolkata on Saturday.

While Divesh battled past top seed VM Sandeep in three sets, Sudipta sailed past Srujana Rayarala for the loss of three games.

The top-16 players from the circuit will compete in the Masters to be staged on grass at the Delhi Gymkhana Club in April.

The champion and runners-up in the boys and girls events of the Masters will travel to London along with coaches to compete in the UK under-14 championship in Wimbledon in August.

Siddhant Banthia, Adil Kalyanpur, Sacchitt Sharma and Mahak Jain had set the trend of Indian players winning titles in the UK championship on the hallowed grass courts of Wimbledon.

Last year, the Indian players were unable to make such an impact, as China strengthened competition while the British themselves tightened up their game.

The results (finals):

Boys: Divesh Gahlot bt VM Sandeep 6-0, 6-7(1), 6-4.

Girls: Sudipta Senthil Kumar bt Srujana Rayarala 6-0, 6-3.


Ramkumar, Yuki take India to a 4-1 victory over New Zealand


Ramkumar Ramanathan did not have to push himself hard to tame Finn Tearney to clinch the Davis Cup tie for India. The 22-year-old Ramkumar did not drop his serve once again in the tie as he overwhelmed the Kiwi 7-5, 6-1, 6-0, reeling off the last 11 games.

Yuki Bhambri who played a key role in giving a vibrant start for the host on the first day did drop a set to the deserving Jose Statham, but played strong overall with his all-round game that kept the spectators entertained for long.

Yuki eventually prevailed 7-5, 3-6, 6-4. The Kiwi could have won in straight sets, but for Yuki winning the first set from being down 2-5. There was no such revival in the second set as Statham was sharp in serving out. In the decider, Yuki bounced back from a break in the first game with a quick break back and broke decisively in the tenth game.

After the superb performance of Artem Sitak and Michael Venus, who won the pivotal doubles against Leander Paes and Vishnu Vardhan, it was an anticlimax for the New Zealanders, but they kept reminding that they were ranked beyond 400 in the world, with their flowing errors.

The Indian team started the celebrations immediately after Ramkumar gave the team an unassailable 3-1 lead, by tossing the outgoing captain Anand Amritraj three times in the air. The routine was slowly followed on coach Zeeshan Ali and continued for Yuki and Leander as well.

At the end, the team came up with a cameo dance, like the way it had done after the tie against Korea in Chandigarh last year. If anything the cameraderie in the team was bewitching.

In the next round, India will play at home from April 7 to 9 against Uzbekistan, which beat Korea, for a berth in the World Group play-off.

Ramkumar served well and saved five breakpoints in the match to ensure a clean record, with his serve Like he had saved three breakpoints at 0-40 in one game against Statham on the first day, Ramkumar did so against Tearney as well with his strong serves. He fired 12 aces, but had nine doublefaults as well. He converted six of 15 breakpoints to cruise home.

Yet, there was a distinct lack of sting in his strokes, which stood in such contrast to the explosive serves. Maybe that completely bamboozled the opponent, who himself struggled with 16 doublefaults that complicated matters.

On the hard courts, on which Yuki came fresh with power packed strokes, Ramkumar played the spin far too much as if he was playing on clay. Against an opponent like Tearney, he could try anything and get away.

Overall, it was a job well done. Over to Mahesh Bhupathi to take the team forward from the next tie, as the captain.

In a special step, the organisers who had done a wonderful job of hosting the tie, after a gap of 43 years in Pune, in such a vibrant atmosphere, asked the captain and all the Indian players, including Saketh Myneni, to address the crowd which stayed back after the entertaining day in pleasant breeze and bright lights to savour the moment.

It was a fitting climax that would stay in memory of everyone who witnessed the tie.

The results:

India bt New Zealand 4-1 (Yuki Bhambri bt Finn Tearney 6-4, 6-4, 6-3; Ramkumar Ramanathan bt Jose Statham 6-3, 6-4, 6-3; Leander Paes & Vishnu Vardhan lost to Artem Sitak & Michael Venus 6-3, 3-6, 6-7(6), 3-6; Ramkumar Ramanathan bt Finn Tearney 7-5, 6-1, 6-0; Yuki Bhambri bt Jose Statham 7-5, 3-6, 6-4).


Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan make it 2-0


Rankings go out of the window in Davis Cup, only if you let go!

Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan were forthright as they put the Kiwis in their place, to give India a 2-0 start in the Asia Oceania Davis Cup tie at the Balewadi Tennis Complex here on Friday.

After Yuki Bhambri handled the initial hiccups in the first two sets, with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Finn Tearney, Ramkumar came out blazing with his big serves and explosive forehands on a slow court, to record a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 victory over the seasoned Jose Statham in the second singles.

That set up the stage for Leander Paes to go for a world record doubles victory on Saturday evening with his trusted partner Vishnu Vardhan, who has magically sprung into the tie from nowhere.

Having returned in a splendid fashion into the big league of the professional circuit with impressive performances at the Chennai Open and the Australian Open, the 24-year-old Yuki was expected to play much better than what his rank of 368 may indicate. He did not disappoint, as he played increasingly better, bouncing back from early breaks of serve in the first two sets and not giving any break chance for the opponent in the third.

‘’I stepped up when required, especially in the third set. I did not let him runaway when he had the early leads. That was the key to the contest’’, said Yuki, understandably happy to give the host a strong start. He had been ranked a career-best 88 by the end of 2015 before a painful ‘’tennis elbow’’ temporarily felled his aspirations to scale greater heights.

Even though Yuki had trained on the court diligently for the last few days, he needed to adjust to the style and pace of his opponent, the 26-year-old Finn Tearney ranked a modest 414 in the world. Once Yuki got a grip over the spin and pace of the courts, he just ripped his opponent apart. Yuki had five aces and as many doublefaults and converted 7 of 17 breakpoints that he forced. The Kiwi broke him thrice to lead 3-1 in the first set and 2-0 in the second.

Once Yuki saved two breakpoints and served out the second set in the 10th game, the Kiwi was literally looking down the barrel.

Ramkumar excelled with his big serves that reached up to 213 kilometres per hour. He whipped the forehand decisively many a time, and was quite crafty with his delectable slice that he floated with uncanny efficiency past the onrushing opponent.

Having played the big boys of Spain in the last Davis Cup tie in September, the 22-year-old Ramkumar was well equipped to handle an opponent ranked 417 even though Jose Statham had the experience of having tamed some of the best players in the region from China and Chinese Taipei.

The key to the whole match was that Ramkumar did not drop his serve even once as he saved all the three breakpoints that he faced. He did grunt with a high decibel level often, much to the amusement of the sizeable crowd, but entertained the spectators with a quality fare, winning some of the long rallies.

The 276th ranked Ramkumar fired 15 aces and committed eight doublefaults in the match. He converted four of six breakpoints to make it a staightforward affair for the host.

Captain Anand Amritraj, on his last assignment, was quite relieved that the pleasant conditions in the evening, in front of an appreciative audience, brought out the best from the Indian boys.

The results: India .leads New Zealand 2-0 (Yuki Bhambri bt Finn Tearney 6-4, 6-4, 6-3; Ramkumar Ramanathan bt Jose Statham 6-3, 6-4, 6-3).


Ajay Malik triumphs in Bengaluru, on the Road to Wimbledon

National under-14 champion Ajay Malik asserted his fighting qualities as he subdued Krishan Hooda 6-3, 7-6(6) in the boys final of the Road to Wimbledon AITA National series junior tennis tournament in Bengaluru on Saturday.

It was the second leg of the four leg series. The third leg will resume after a week’s gap in Chandigarh and will be followed by the fourth event on grass in Kolkata.

The Masters is scheduled to be held at the Delhi Gymkhana grass courts in April. The champions and runners-up in the boys and girls singles events will make it to the UK under-14 championship to be played in Wimbledon in August.

The Indian juniors had done very well in the novel project in the first two years with Siddhant Banthia, Adil Kalyanpur, Sacchitt Sharma and Mahak Jain winning the titles in Wimbledon. The batch last year could not make a similar impact, and the current crop may be hungry to regain the honour.


Karan Srivastava, Tanisha Kashyap triumph in ITF juniors


Karan Srivastava and Tanisha Kashyap won the boys and girls titles respectively in the ITF grade-5 junior tennis tournament at the Indore Tennis Club Complex on Saturday.

The sixth seeded Karan beat qualifier Dipin Wadhwa 6-4, 6-4. Fourth seed Tanisha Kashyap was more authoritative in her victory over fifth seed Shrivalli Rashmikaa who hit a flurry of winners but also committed many errors.

The results (finals):

Boys: Karan Srivastava bt Dipin Wadhwa 6-4, 6-4.

Girls: Tanisha Kashyap bt Shrivalli Rashmikaa 6-3, 6-3.


VM Sandeep, Sarah Dev win the first leg of Road to Wimbledon

Sarah Dev and VM Sandeep won the girls and boys titles respectively in the Road to Wimbledon AITA National series under-14 tennis tournament at the Deccan Gymkhana in Pune on Saturday.

Second seed Sarah downed third seed Malikaa Marathe for the loss of five games. The trainee of coach Milos Pavlovic at the Harvest Tennis Academy in Jassowal, Ludhiana, Sarah was the favourite as she had asserted her game in the last season itself but was not lucky to make it to Wimbledon.

The boys final had to be called after five games as Divesh Gahlot twisted his ankle and retired. Top seed Sandeep, a ninth standard student from Chennai trains at the Triangle Tennis Academy under coach Udaykumar Reddy.

The results (finals):

Boys: VM Sandeep bt Divesh Gahlot 4-1 (retired).

Girls: Sarah Dev bt Malikaa Marathe 6-1, 6-4.


Mahak Jain reserves her best for Zeel Desai in final


Second seed Mahak Jain did her confidence a world of good as she beat top seed Zeel Desai 7-6(6), 6-3 in the girls final of the ITF grade-2 junior tennis tournament at the DLTA Complex here on Saturday.

By beating an opponent to whom she had lost the final at the same venue last year in the same event, the small-built but stout-hearted Mahak emphasised the improvement she had made. And that did her team, led by coach Sajid Lodi, proud.

At 15, Mahak showed commendable maturity of temperament and the will to play each point on merit, as she bounced back from being down 0-4 to record a memorable triumph.

The first set was the key to the contest of high intensity and Mahak survived a setpoint in the tie-break to edge ahead.

After winning five games on the trot from being 0-4, Mahak did drop serve in the 11th game, but broke back to force the tie-break.

Zeel was a bit unlucky as she got an overrule in the third point on the ninth game in the first set, when she should have been ahead 30-15. The point was replayed and she eventually dropped serve as the match tended to slip away from her firm grasp.

It had to be conceded that there were moments when Mahak was also not happy with some calls, but overall the umpire was quite sharp in matching the fierce strokes of the two players, both of whom would be competing in the Australian Open junior event soon in Melbourne.

In the second set, Mahak broke serve in the fifth and seventh games, but failed to serve out the match in the eighth. Zeel failed to convert three gamepoints in the ninth game as Mahak forced the errors to clinch the contest in about two hours.

It was the second grade-2 singles title for Mahak following the one in Japan. She had won the grade-3 title in Chandigarh last week. She had also finished runner-up in doubles with Yasmina Karimjanova of Uzbekistan. The additional points should help Mahak get closer to the top-50 from her current career-best rank of 62.

By winning some touch matches along the way, including the one over Axana Mareen of Belgium in the quarterfinals from being down 1-4 in the decider, Mahak had demonstrated a certain quality in her game that should take her far.

Even though Zeel was the favourite, and had beaten Mahak every time, there was no guarantee as coach Todd Clark had pointed out even before the final that Mahak played ‘’very solid’’.

On her part, Mahak was content to say that she had hoped to win. She was thrilled to execute an impressive performance that should give a lot of confidence to girls who feel that they don’t have the height to play better.

In the boys final, top seed Uisung Park of Korea bounced back after a lethargic start to beat the tall and strongly-built Len Schouten of the Netherlands 3-6, 6-1, 6-0. Park had played only the doubles last week and won the title in Chandigarh. He was easily the best this week with his all-round game as he emerged victorious in both the singles and doubles.

The results (finals):

Boys: Uisung Park (Kor) bt Len Schouten (Ned) 3-6, 6-1, 6-0.

Girls: Mahak Jain bt Zeel Desai 7-6(6), 6-3.


Sriram Balaji outplays eighth seed in Bangkok Challenger


Qualifier Sriram Balaji asserted his strong game with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over eighth seed Vaclavv Safranek of the Czech Republic in the first round of the $50,000 men’s Challenger tennis tournament in Bangkok on Tuesday.

In the pre-quarterfinals, Balaji, who has already assured himself of nine ATP points including three from the qualifying event, will play Jurgen Zopp of Estonia.

In the $75,000 Challenger in Australia, however, Vijay Sundar Prashanth missed a matchpoint and let Sam Groth escape to victory at 6-7(1), 7-6(8), 6-3 in the first round. He collected $780 and there was no ATP point.

Vijay had already made the doubles quarterfinals in partnership with Corentin Moutet of France and will face third seeds Andre Begemann and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany.

The results:

$75,000 Challenger men, Canberra, Australia
Singles (first round): Sam Groth (Aus) bt Vijay Sundar Prashanth 6-7(1), 7-6(8), 6-3.

$50,000 Challenger men, Bangkok, Thailand
Singles (first round): Sriram Balaji bt Vaclavv Safranek (Cze) 6-4, 6-0.

$15,000 ITF women, Martinique, France
Singles (first round): Alice Rame (Fra) bt Kyra Shroff 6-1, 7-5.


Sriram Balaji qualifies for Bangkok Challenger


Seventh seed Sriram Balaji fought his way through three rounds of the qualifying event in the $50,000 ATP men’s Challenger tennis tournament in Bangkok.

In doubles, however, Balaji in partnership with Li Zhe of China was beaten 10-3 in the super tie-break in the pre-quarterfinals by Egor Gerasimov of Belarus and Aslan Karatsev of Russia.

Vijay Sundar Prashanth made the doubles quarterfinals of the $75,000 Challenger in Australia in partnership with Corentin Moutet of France.

The results:

$50,000 Challenger men, Bangkok, Thailand

Qualifying singles (third and final round): Sriram Balaji bt Sun
Fajing (Chn) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4; Second round: Sriram Balaji bt Pruchya
Isarow (Tha) 7-5, 5-7, 7-6(5); Hong Seong-Chan (Kor) bt Sidharth Rawat 6-4, 6-0; First round: Sriram Balaji bt Worairin Kumthonkittikul (Tha) 6-1, 6-3; Kittipong Wachiramanowong (Tha) bt Sasi Kumar Mukund 4-6, 6-3, 6-3; Sidharth Rawat bt Chanon Phunsawat (Tha) 6-3, 6-1.

Doubles (pre-quarterfinals): Egor Gerasimov (Blr) & Aslan Karatsev
(Rus) bt Li Zhe (Chn) & Sriram Balaji 6-4, 6-7(0), 10-3.

$75,000 Challenger men, Canberra, Australia
Doubles (pre-quarterfinals): Corentin Moutet (Fra) & Vijay Sundar
Prashanth bt Thomas Fancutt & James Frawley (Aus) 6-3, 7-5.


Mahak Jain wins ITF junior title in Chandigarh


Mahak Jain jumped to a smart start for the season as she won the girls title in the ITF grade-3 junior tennis tournament at the CLTA Stadium on Sunday.

The 15-year-old Mahak, seeded No.1 beat the fourth seed Axana Mareen of Belgium after recovering from a slow start, 1-6, 6-2, 6-2

After rain had washed out play on Saturday, Mahak was perhaps relatively rusty at the start. After having won the grade-2 title in Japan in October, it was another morale-booster for the small-built Mahak, ranked 70 in the world.

In the boys final, however, Dhruv Sunish could not capitalise on winning the first set in the tie-break and was beaten 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-3 by Jack Draper of Britain.

Mahak will play the next grade-2 tournament in Delhi, in which she had finished runner-up to Zeel Desai last year. She is, in fact, waiting for the visa to go to the Australian Open and get a taste of Grand Slam competition.

The results (finals):

Boys: Jack Draper (GBR) bt Dhruv Sunish 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-3.

Girls: Mahak Jain bt Axana Mareen (Bel) 1-6, 6-2, 6-2.


Siddhant Banthia, Dhruv Sunish, Mahak Jain and Rhea Verma make semifinals of ITF juniors


Top seed Siddhant Banthia stayed on course as he beat eighth Tonkla Mulada of Thailand 6-2, 7-5 in the boys quarterfinals of the ITF grade-3 junior tennis tournament at the CLTA Complex on Thursday.

In the semifinals, Siddhant will be challenged by third seed Jack Draper of Britain.

Dhruv Sunish also continued to prove strong for his opponents as he outplayed fifth Seed Dostanbek Tashbulatov of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-2. He will play Sergey Fomin of Uzbekistan who pipped Sacchitt Sharma in the third set tie-break.

In the girls section, top seed Mahak Jain and unseeded Rhea Verma made the semifinals. Mahak will play third seed Thasaporn Naklo of Thailand while Rhea will clash against fourth seed Axana Mareen of Belgium.

In doubles, only Vasisht Cheruku could make the final from among Indian players in both the boys and girls section put together, as he in partnership with Jack Draper beat second seeds Siddhant Banthia and Parikshit Somani in straight sets.

The results:

Boys (quarterfinals): Siddhant Banthia bt Tonkla Mulada (Tha) 6-2,
7-5; Jack Draper (GBR) bt Roko Savin (Cro) 6-2, 6-2; Sergey Fomin (Uzb) bt Sacchitt Sharma 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-6(5); Dhruv Sunish bt Dostanbek Tashbulatov (Kaz) 6-2, 6-2.

Doubles (semifinals): Ulsung Park (Kor) & Hua-Chen Yu (Tpe) bt Calvin Golmei & Rishabh Sharda 6-1, 6-3; Vasisht Cheruku & Jack Draper (GBR) bt Siddhant Banthia & Parikshit Somani 6-2, 6-4.

Girls (quarterfinals): Mahak Jain bt Vaidehi Chaudhari 6-0, 6-0;
Thasaporn Naklo (Tha) bt Tanisha Kashyap 6-1, 6-1; Axana Mareen (Bel) bt Akanksha Bhan 6-3, 6-1; Rhea Verma bt Shivani Amineni 6-3, 7-6(5).

Doubles (semifinals): Esher Adeshina & Gemma Heath (GBR) bt Harsha Sai Challa & Sabhyata Nihalani 6-4, 6-3; Kuan Yi Lee (Tpe) & Mananchaya Sawangkaew (Tha) bt Shivani Amineni & Vaidehi Chaudhari 6-3, 6-3.


Dhruv Sunish in quarterfinals of the ITF juniors


Dhruv Sunish beat Freddie Grant of Britain 6-4, 6-2 in the boys pre-quarterfinals of the ITF grade-3 junior tennis tournament at the CLTA Complex on Wednesday.

Dhruv, who had beaten the second seed in the first round, was joined in the quarterfinals by top seed Siddhant Banthia and Sacchitt Sharma among the Indian players.

In the girls section, Shivani Amineni beat fifth seed Kuan Yi Lee of Chinese Taipei 6-1, 6-3 to set up a quarterfinal against compatriot Rhea Verma. Top seed Mahak Jain, Vaidehi Chaudhari, Tanisha Kashyap, Akanksha Bhan were the other Indian girls to progress into the quarterfinals.

The results:

Boys (pre-quarterfinals): Siddhant Banthia bt Nikit Reddy 6-0, 6-1;
Tonkla (Tha) bt Abhimanyu Vannnem Reddy 3-6, 6-4, 6-4; Jack Draper (GBR) bt Vasisht Cheruku 6-3, 6-2; Roko Savin (Cro) bt Arthur Craig Pantino (Phi) 6-2, 6-4; Sergey Fomin (Uzb) bt Parikshit Somani 5-7, 6-2, 6-4; SAcchitt Sharma bt Siddharth Thakran 6-3, 5-7, 6-2; Dostanbek Tashbulatov (Kaz) bt Alex Solanki 4-6, 6-2, 6-2; Dhruv Sunish bt Freddie Grant (GBR) 6-4, 6-2.

Doubles (quarterfinals): Ulsung Park (Kor) & Hua-Chen Yu (Te) bt Megh Bhargav atel & Alex solanki 6-1, 7-5; Calvin Golmei & Rishabh Sharda bt Freddie Grant (GBR) & Roko Savin (Cro) 4-6, 7-5, 10-5; Jack Draper (GBR) & Vasisht Cheruku bt Sergey Fomin (Uzb) & Dostanbek Tashbulatov (Kaz) 3-6, 6-1, 12-10; Siddhant Banthia & Parikshit Somani bt Rithvik Choudary Bollipalli & Shashank Theertha 6-2, 6-2.

Girls (pre-quarterfinals): Mahak Jain bt Aesha Patel 6-0, 6-0; Vaidehi Chaudhari bt Sabhyata Nihalani 6-4, 6-3; Thasaporn Naklo (Tha) bt Victoria Kalaitzis (Bel) 6-2, 6-3; Tanisha Kashyap bt Prinkle Singh 7-6(6), 6-4; Akanksha Bhan bt Gemma Heath (GBR) 6-3, 6-2; Axana Mareen (Bel) bt Shivani Manjanna 6-0, 6-0; Shivani Amineni bt Kuan Yi Lee (Tpe) 6-1, 6-3; Rhea Verma bt Mananchaya Sawangkaew (Tha) 6-1, 7-6(4).

Doubles (quarterfinals): Harsha Sai Challa & Sabhyata Nihalani bt Thasaporn Naklo (Tha) & Mihika Yadav 6-2, 0-6, 10-6; Esther Adeshina& Gemma Heath (GBR) bt Yasmina Karimjanova (Uzb) & Axana Mareen (Bel) 7-5, 6-2; Kuan Yi Lee (Tpe) & Mananchaya Awangkaew (Tha) bt Aesha Patel (US) & Aaliya Ebrahim 6-2, 6-2; Shivani Amineni & Vaidehi Chaudhari bt Victoria Kalaitzis (Bel) & Mahak Jain 6-3, 6-3.



The Indian boys had little difficulty in asserting their supremacy as they outplayed Uzbekistan 2-0 in the final of the Asia Junior under-14 Cup at the Khalifa Tennis Complex in Doha on Friday.

Captain of the Indian team Sajid Lodi said that it was a convincing performance by the four-member Indian team throughout the tournament, and the title helped the team win hospitality to witness the ATP Qatar Open next week, featuring some of the best players of the world like Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych.

The Indian boys did not drop a match in the tournament featuring eight teams including from the host Qatar. India had topped its group, beating Hong Kong, Qatar and Jordan by 3-0 margin. It overwhelmed Sri Lanka 2-0 in the semifinals.

The other had featured Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar-B.

Aaryan Zaveri and Jaishvin Sidana were the other members of the team, apart from Dev Javia and VM Sandeep who featured in the final.

The Indian teams have been doing well in this tournament and enjoyed watching the Qatar Open ATP event, gaining invaluable experience.

The results (final): India bt Uzbekistan 2-0 (Dev Javia bt Aziz Dadabaev 6-2, 6-1; VM Sandeep bt David Bagrinovskiy 6-3, 6-2).

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