After the local lads’ ouster and the withdrawal of city favourite Sanam Singh from the tournament,the hopes of the local fans was pinned on Vijayant Malik,a former CHART trainee,who is still alive and kicking in the $ 15,000 ITF men’s futures tennis tournament being played at the CLTA Stadium in Sector 10. On Tuesday,local players Nischay Rawal,Ranjeet Singh and Gurinder Singh had gone down fighting to their respective opponents while before his first round match,Sanam withdrew from the tournament owing to wrist injury.
That left Vijayant Malik as the lone hope for the local fans. And he did not disappoint as the tall and lanky Malik stormed into the singles quarterfinal after thrashing Vinayak Sharma Kaza,6-2,6-1,in a pre-quarters encounter. Malik,winner of the Vietnam men’s singles futures in 2012 and doubles title with N Sriram Balaji in Thailand men’s futures three years ago,got off to a perfect start as he did not lose a single point while taking the first game in the opening set. Using his height to good advantage,he smashed some bullet-like aces past Vinayak. His powerful forehands and precise placement of the ball helped him earn few important points. He broke his opponent in the fourth and eighth games to easily win the first set,6-2,without facing any resistance from Kaza.
Malik,the seventh seed,continued from where he had left in the first set and continued to impress with his solid display. The Davis Cupper,who represented India in the tie against Republic of Korea and was also a member of the Indian team for the tie against Indonesia,looked in good touch. He won the first three games without any difficulty,including a break in the second game,as he raced to a 3-0 lead. His booming serve and powerful forehands were too much to handle for Kaza as continued to maintain the upper hand over his opponent. The 518 ATP ranked Malik also won the fifth,sixth and the seventh games to win the second,6-1,to move into the quarters.
Malik will now look to make it to the semis and then the final,but before that he needs to overcome top seed and favourite Yuki Bhambri in the quarter-final encounter. The tennis player from Delhi and a vital member of the Indian Davis Cup team outclassed Austin Karosi of USA,6-2,6-1,in a match that lasted only about one hour. Yuki,ranked 271,played with a lot of confidence and his placements were exquisite. He won the first game,then broke Karosi in the second and eighth games,to win the set 6-2.
The player from United States managed to win just a solitary game- the fourth- in the second set while Yuki pressed hard and clinched the set,6-1,to enter the quarters.
Jatin Dahiya,meanwhile,gave a tough fight to N Sriram Balaji before losing to him,3-6,3-6,in a match that lasted 95 minutes. Balaji got the vital break in the fourth game of the first set to take a 3-1 lead. He then went on to clinch the set,6-3. Dahiya made a comeback and was leading 2-0 in the second set after breaking Balaji in the second game when Balaji bounced back and won four successive games to take a 4-2 lead. Balaji then broke Dahiya in the ninth game to win the set,6-3.
The other players to join these players in the quarter-final round were Rakshit Rishi,eight seed Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan,sixth seed N Vijay Sundar Prashanth,fourth seed Vishnu Vardhan and fifth seed Saketh Myneni.
In doubles,the top seeded pair of Vishnu Vardhan and Arun Prakash Rajagopalan overcame a stiff resistance from Lakshit Sood and Abhijeet Tiwari in an evenly contested match. Clearly not happy with the way the decisions went against them,Vishu and Arun sought clarifications from the chair umpire on number of occasions. After losing the first set,3-6,the top seed pair just managed to keep their nerves and won the next set in the tie-breaker,7-6 (2). The match was then decided via tie-breaker in which Vishnu and Arun held on to their nerves to register a hard-fought 10-8 victory.
Australian Zach Itzstein and Ashwin Vijayragavan booked their berths in the semi-finals after getting a walkover against Yuki Bhambri and Vivek Shokeen. Shokeen had pulled out of tournament due to shoulder injury.
Singles: (pre-quarter-finals): 1-Yuki Bhambri (IND) bt Austin Karosi (USA) 6-2,6-1; 7-Vijayant Malik (IND) bt Vinayak Sharma Kaza 6-2,6-1 (IND); Rakshit Rishi (IND) bt Sagar Ahuja (IND) 6-3 4-6 6-4; 8-Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan (IND) bt Fariz Mohammed (IND) 6-0 6-1; 6-N. Vijay Sundar Prashanth (IND) bt Ronit Singh Bisht (IND) 6-2 6-2; 4-Vishnu Vardhan (IND) bt Ashwin Vijayragavan (IND) 6-3 7-6 (1); 5-Saketh Myneni (IND) bt Kunal Anand (IND) 7-5 6-2; 2-N. Sriram Balaji (IND) bt Jatin Dahiya (IND) 6-3 6-3;
Doubles (q-finals): Arun-Prakash Rajagopalan / Vishnu Vardhan bt. Lakshit Sood / Abhijeet Tiwari 3-6,7-6 (2),(10-8); Zach Itzstein / Ashwin Vijayragavan w/o Yuki Bhambri / Vivek Shokeen; Vijayant Malik / Saketh Myneni bt. Kunal Anand / Ronak Manuja 6-1 6-3; N.Sriram Balaji / Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan bt. Fariz Mohammed / Vignesh Veerabadran 7-5 6-1.