ITF Futures tournament: Yuki to clash with Balaji in final

PTI| Updated: Nov 15, 2013, 18:34 PM IST

New Delhi: Top seed Yuki Bhambri asserted his class with a resounding 6-3 6-1 win over Torsten Wietoska and set up a title clash with compatriot N Sriram Balaji, who struggled past Vishnu Vardhan in a marathon semifinal of the USD 10,000 ITF Futures tournament, here on Friday.

Balaji edged past Vishnu 5-7 6-3 7-6 (4) in a three-hour seven minutes semifinal, but he still had enough energy to win the doubles title later with V M Ranjeet.

They beat the talanted young duo of Ashwin Vijayragwan and Ramkumar Ramnathan 7-6 (3) 6-3 in the title clash.

In an aggressive Wietoska, Yuki was playing his best opponent of the tournament, but the Delhi boy was too good for the German fifth seed.

Wietoska did put up a fight. He played with intensity and maintained that throughout but that only brought the best out of Yuki.

Wietoska had fiery power-packed strokes in his repertoire and some of his service returns were amazing but Yuki knew how to deal with fire, and it was Gereman who was feeling the heat.

Frustrated that he could do nothing to stop his rival, who had answer for his every shot, the German even threw his racquet and ended up causing a hole on the ITF backdrop.

Wietoska was facing a breakpoint in the fifth game, when he failed to pick up a low half volley, but saved that and then the next breakpoint with an ace. But he netted a backhand on the third chance to hand Yuki the lead, which he consolidated with an extremely good serve, making it 5-3.

Serving to stay in the match, Wietoska did not help his cause by spraying backhand errors.
The first game of the second set was the most intense, lasting 10 minutes and featured four decue points. Yuki saved two breakpoints. Wietoska had earned the first with a crushing forehand winner but Yuki saved that with a stunning cross court winner.

Dominant Yuki broke Woetska`s serve and confidence in the second game and when he served out the next at love for a 3-0 lead even the German clapped, appreciating his rival`s game.

"He is in 500s but he is a much better player. If he keeps playing this, he will be a danger," Yuki said of Wietoska and added that if he plays to his potential tomorrow, handling Balaji won`t be a problem.

Balaji took long to get into the groove and play his game but he stood out with his net play later as he consistently hit deft volleys and never allowed Vishnu to do the same.

Even if Vishnu came to net Balaji would go past him easily and that restricted the comeback-man to baseline. Vishnu, who relies heavily on his serve, slowed the game with his low backhand slices, but Balaji had a better game and never allowed his rival to dictate terms.

After being broken in the very first game, Balaji got himself to two set points, but not only squandered those but lost the set also.

The Coimbatore boy had opened up a 4-1 lead in the second set by breaking Vishnu`s serve in the fourth game. Vishnu prevented a 5-1 scoreline when he saved a chance in the sixth game and broke back to make it back on serve in the seventh.

Vishnu missed out on an easy put away and was broken in the eighth game. His hands on his head, he knew he had made a mistake which could cost him heavy and it did. What could have been a 4-4 scoreline, Balaji was now serving for the set and he did not miss it this time.

Vishnu asked for a medical timeout after the third game in the final set. However, he still stretched the match to a tie-breaker, in which Balaji raced to 5-2 lead and finished it with a backhand winner.

"I knew he does have the game to hurt me. I was confident despite losing the first set. I knew I was better than him from the baseline. Since I am playing doubles also, so that helped in net play," he said.

About tomorrow`s final, Balaji said he "needs to attack and finish points early".