February 12, 2012
February 12, 2012
TENNIS / Saketh cruises in the men's final; Rushmi takes three hours to regain title
It took all of 57 minutes for Saketh Myneni of Andhra Pradesh to become the new men's National champion, while Rushmi Chakravarthi of Tamil Nadu required a record three hours to regain the women's title after a gap of four years.
The singles finals of the Indian Jute National grass-court tennis at the famed South Club centre-court witnessed contrasting scenes where two generations of tennis talents clashed for supremacy.
While top-seeded Saketh dominated reigning champion and Statemate A.S. Suresh Krishna in the men's final, third-seeded Rushmi prevailed over fourth-seeded Sri Vaishnavi Peddi Reddy of Andhra Pradesh in the women's final.
Rushmi's singles triumph also meant that she annexed a double crown. She had won the women's doubles title on Friday partnering Ankita Raina of Gujarat.
Looking for her sixth National title 34-year-old Rushmi scripted a rare essay of tact and endurance to better the 16-year-old Sri Vaishnavi and realise her dream.
Wealth of experience
Rushmi, who apparently is more into coaching in her newly opened academy in Chennai, dug deep into the wealth of her experience and clambered back from a set deficit to wrest the match from her young and energetic opponent.
Sri Vaishnavi began on a breezy note and opened up a 4-1 lead breaking Rushmi thrice in the first set. Just as Vaishnavi seemed to relax on the advantage, Rushmi stung back.
The seasoned campaigner teased her young opponent with a mix of low slices and deep cross-court returns while inducing the latter to commit errors.
Rushmi levelled the score 5-5 with a late comeback before forcing the tie-breaker. Sri Vaishnavi brought her strong forehand returns to good effect to win the first set tiebreak (7-3) and again ran up a 4-0 lead in the second set breaking Rushmi twice.
Rushmi, showing the temperament of a champion, gradually worked her way back once again just as Sri Vaishnavi seemed to be in a hurry to wrap up the match.
Rushmi salvaged one break in the fifth game and then levelled the breaks in the ninth game when Sri Vaishnavi was serving for the match at 5-3. Rushmi returned with uncanny calm and perfection making her young opponent choke and miss the easiest of returns.
The second set also went to the tiebreaker, but Rushmi, having gained the mental leverage, levelled the set score winning the tie-break 7-2.
The final set, that lasted 65 minutes, saw a battle of attrition as Sri Vaishnavi played hard to survive while Rushmi went in search of winners.
Rushmi broke Sri Vaishnavi in the fourth game to forge a 3-1 advantage before Sri Vaishnavi broke back in the fifth to level the issue.
Rushmi broke Sri Vaishnavi, who led 40-30, in the 12th game to decide the set 7-5 and complete one of the longest National women's finals in recent times.
“Grass is my favourite surface and I just went out and gave my best today,” said Rushmi after winning her sixth title in nine final appearances.
Saketh's ascension to the top was the smoothest among recent champions. The Hyderabad-based player, who returned to the country late last year after playing five years of inter-collegiate tennis in the United States, was just brilliant today.
Never allowing his opponent to break serve, Saketh totally outclassed Suresh Krishna breaking serve once in each of the two sets for a quick victory.
“I wish to compete for a spot in the Indian Davis Cup team and I hope to continue with my form this season,” said 24-year-old Saketh, whose last major title in the country was winning the junior Nationals in Chennai in 2005.
The results (finals):
Women's singles: Rushmi Chakravarthi (TN) bt Sri Vaishnavi Peddi Reddy (AP) 6-7(3), 7-6(2), 7-5.
Men's singles: Saketh Myneni (AP) bt A.S. Suresh Krishna (AP) 6-3, 6-4.Doubles: Mohit Mayur Jayaprakash & Mohamed Fariz (TN) bt Rupesh Roy (Ben) & Christopher Marquis (Mah) 6-3, 6-4.