Balaji-Vardhan make early exit

Jigar Hindocha
Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Indian duo had played in the ATP $50,000 KPIT-MSLTA Challenger in November and were accustomed to the conditions at the Balewadi courts. They handled the pace nicely and fired crosscourt returns nicely to wrap up the first set 6-3.

PUNE: Wildcard pair of N Sriram Balaji and Vishnu Vardhan fought hard before going down 6-3, 6-7 (8-10), 6-10 against Canadian-Briton duo of Adil Shamasdin and Neal Skupski in the first round of the doubles contest at the ATP 250 Series Tata Open Maharashtra at the Balewadi Tennis Complex on Monday.

Indian duo had played in the ATP $50,000 KPIT-MSLTA Challenger in November and were accustomed to the conditions at the Balewadi courts. They handled the pace nicely and fired crosscourt returns nicely to wrap up the first set 6-3.

The Indian pair started the second set well, but Shamasdin and Skupski rallied strongly and forced the second set into the tie-breaker. Balaji and Vardhan played some half volley shots to snatch a few points in middle and made it 6-all after trailing 6-3 at one point.

After 6-all, Indians made few unforced errors which helped Shamasdin and Skupski to take tie breaker 10-8.

In the super tie-breaker, Shamasdin and Skupski came out all guns blazing mixing variety of shots to take 5-3 lead as Indians struggled to find rhythm and went down 6-10.

Winning start for Kukushkin
In the first match on centre court, Seventh seed, Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan defeated Radu Albot of Moldova 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) in a two hours four minute match.

Kukushkin took the first set breaking Albot in the 5th and 7th games. In the second set, Kukushkin was tested by Albot before the Kazakhstan player took the second set 7-6 (7-4).

The World ranked 89, Gilles Simon from France had an easy outing in the middle defeating Tennys Sandgren of United States 6-4, 6-1 in an hour and 15 minute match.

Simon opened up the first set with 5-0 lead before Sandgren rallied to win four consecutive games breaking Simon couple of times.

Simon got his act together and took it 6-4. In the second set Simon run away with a 6-1 victory.

Eighth-seeded Pierre-Hugues Herbert sweated out hard before moving into the second round with a 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (6-8), 6-2 win over Italy’s Marco Cecchinato.

World no. 85 Marton Fucsovics faced no great challenge before defeating Nicolas Kicker in straight sets 6-0, 6-3.

Chile’s Nicolas Jarry also advanced to the second round after beating Spain’s Pablo Andujar in three sets 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 7-5.

RESULTS:
First round: 7-Mikhail Kukushkin (Kaz) bt Radu Albot (Mda) 6-2, 7-6 (7-4); Gilles Simon (Fra) bt Tennys Sandgren (US) 6-4, 6-1; Marton Fucsovics (Hun) bt Nicolas Kicker (Arg) 6-0, 6-3; wc-Ramkumar Ramanathan (Ind) bt Roberto Carballes Baena (Esp) 7-6 (7-4), 6-2; q-Ricardo Ojeda Lara (Esp) bt 6-Jiri Vesely (Cze) 6-3, 7-6 (7-5); Nicolas Jarry (Chi) bt Pablo Andujar (Esp) 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 7-5; 8-Pierre-Hugues Herbert (Fra) bt Marco Cecchinato (Ita) 7-6, (7-4), 6-7(6-8), 6-2.

Doubles:
First round: Adil Shamasdin (Can) and Neal Skupski (Gbr) bt wc-N Sriram Balaji (Ind) and Vishnu Vardhan (Ind) 3-6, 7-6 (10-8), 10-6; 2-Robin Haase (Ned) and Matwe Middelkoop (Ned) bt wc-Arjun Kadhe (Ind) and Benoit Paire (Fra) 1-6, 7-5, 10-8.

QUALIFIER LARA STUNS SIXTH SEED VESELY
In an exciting match of the day, qualifier Ricardo Ojeda Lara from Spain continued his dream run in Pune defeating sixth seed Jiri Vesely of Czech Republic 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) in an hour an 39 minutes match.
The 24-year-old Spaniard had qualified for the main draw after winning two matches in the qualifying tournament and looked like the man-in-form as he won the first set comfortably.

In the second set, Vesely forced the contest in the tie-breaker but could not stop Lara from winning -7-6 (7-5).

KADHE-PAIRE EXIT
Local boy Arjun Kadhe pairing with Benoit Paire of France were shown exit door by Robin Haase and Matwe Middelkoop, the Dutch pair winning 1-6, 7-5, 10-8 in super tie-breaker.

Kadhe and Paire gelled up well in the first set taking it 6-1. In the second set, the second seeded pair of Haase-Middlekoop came out firing using their ace game to force the set into the tie-breaker which they won 7-5.

In the super tie-break, the Dutchmen took early lead and held on till the end to win 10-8 and advanced into the second round.

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