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Balaji battles past Vishnu to win maiden title.

TOP seed Sriram Balaji came to the Capital with a mission and accomplished it with a focused approach and calm temperament. Balaji's lastminute dash to compete at the Fenesta Open Nationals bore fruit as he clinched his maiden title here on Saturday after seeing off the challenge of defending champion and close friend Vishnu Vardhan 7- 5, 6- 3.

If it is the Senior Nationals, Delhi girl Prerna Bhambri cannot put a foot wrong. She romped to her fourth title on the trot after dispatching Sai Samitha Chamarthi 6- 0, 6- 1 at the Delhi Lawn Tennis Association ( DLTA) complex here.

She was seeded fourth but played like a champion this week. In the final, she wasted little time in stamping her authority and won the lopsided contest in less than an hour.

" I love playing here and winning the Nationals for a fourth time is a huge honour. It just fills me with confidence every time I win here," Prerna said.

The much- awaited match between Vishnu and Balaji lived up to the billing.

The scoreline does not reflect the close affair that it was. Both players are well aware of each other's game.

Vishnu is known to have a strong serve, but Balaji was on a mission. Having to come through the qualifiers because of the last- minute entry, he played at a high level throughout the week.

Both players gave nothing away on their serve in the first set, which appeared to be heading for a tiebreaker.

But Balaji stepped up on Vishnu's serve in the 12th game and the latter cracked, having served strongly thus far, with a double fault on the second set point.

The second set saw Balaji going all out even as Vishnu began to feel a bit of pressure. Balaji got a break in the second game but Vishnu broke back immediately.

Balaji, however, broke him again in the fourth game and from there on consolidated with love service holds before finishing it off on his serve.

" I expected a tough match. Vishnu has a good serve, but in the second set he was not consistent with his serve and I took advantage of that," Balaji said.

" Frankly when you are growing up, it ( national title) is not something in your list because you want to make it big as a professional. But being called a national champion does not happen every day and I am happy I made the right decision to come here and compete." B. Nikhsep and Zeel Desai won the under- 18 boys' and girls' singles titles respectively. Nikhsep defeated Aryan Goveas 6- 3, 2- 6, 7- 5 while Zeel got the better of Sathwika Sama 3- 6, 6- 3, 7- 5.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Oct 11, 2015
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