Abhimanyu Vannemreddy earned a wildcard entry into Junior French Open with a fighting win over Hikaru Shiraishi in the final of the Rendez-Vous event. The 17-year-old Abhimanyu tamed the fighting Japanese 6-1 4-6 6-1 in two hours and 15 minutes at court number six of Roland Garros.
But to the Shiraiashi’s credit, he showed exemplary fighting spirit as twice he was bleeding from his nose due to heat but never threw in the towel.
It has been an amazing journey for Abhimanyu too as he was not the supposed to compete in the Rendez-Vous as he had lost the Rendez-Vous regional qualifying final to Siddanth Banthia.
Banthia got injured and pulled out, allowing Abhimanyu to come in as last-minute replacement. The Bengaluru boy grabbed the opportunity with both hands and became the first Indian to win the event.
In the previous two editions, none of the four Indians, who competed had not even qualified for the final.
“It’s just beginning. I hope I keep winning matches. It is my first time in Europe and it has happened. It means a lot. There is a road ahead and I will give my best,” Abhimanyu said after the win.
Coach Vivek Stayajit, who accompanied the Indian player, said,”Abhi kept his calm. The way the Japanese fought, it can unruffled the player in the deciding set. But he stuck to his game plan, kept concentration.”
Former Davis Cupper Vishal Uppal, who had trained Abhimanyu, said:”I am proud of him. Our collective hard work has silenced all the critics, who feel that we can’t make in India. This is a big step in right direction for Indian tennis.”
With Shiraishi struggling with the heat badly, Abhimanyu just raced away with the first set but the way Japanese cameback after taking medical timeout was very inspiring. He refused to throw in the towel. With cotton stuffed in one nostril to stop oozing, Shiraishi played very smartly in the second set.
He consistently attacked Abhimanyu’s serve and played mostly on the Indian’s backhand to open the court for winners.
Kairaishi used drop shot very effectively. He slowed down the game to snatch momentum from Abhimanyu. However, Abhimanyu kept fighting and managed to break his opponent in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead.
It was a stunning backhand winner from a very difficult angle by Abhimanyu that sealed the break.
However, he dropped serve in the next game with the Japanese again playing smartly with drop shots. Abhimanyu saved two break chances but the Japanese sealed the break with a volley winner.
Serving to stay in the set at 4-5, Abhimanyu buckled under pressure and served a double fault on the second breakpoint.
Japanese stayed solid and served out the set in te next game. Shiraishi out Abhimanyu under pressure from the first game of the deciding set by attacking the net more but somehow the Indian managed to hold.
Surprise unforced errors from the Japanese, gave Abimanyu two break chances and Shiraishi allowed the Indian take a 2-0 lead by sending a backhand to net on first chance.
He served out the next game at love to take a comfortable 3-0 lead which became 4-0 with second break of serve. From there, it was not difficult for him to close the match.