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Michon avenges as Sitak strikes

121130_22

French left-hander Axel Michon, who was in the eye of a storm last week after losing the title to Maximilian Neuchrist in a tense three-setter, had his revenge in yesterday’s quarterfinals of the ITF Futures for the GLF-Cham Prasidh Cup at the National Training Centre.



Apart from Michon’s sharp serves and even sharper ground strokes troubling the tall Austrian for a set and a half, the scorching sun got into Neuchrist’s skin as well.

By the time the Frenchman had gone 6-3 and 3-0 up in the second, the Austrian seemingly had his energy reserves so low that he decided to retire, the sixth such main-draw casualty in the past 12 days.

The transformation in Michon was striking. No hint of that abrasiveness that had somewhat smudged his gallant show in the previous contest between the two. He remained calmer than he normally gets credit for and was always on top of Neuchrist to gain safe passage into today’s semi-final, where he will take on New Zealand’s Artem Sitak in what is a repeat of their clash at the same stage a week ago.

The unseeded Aucklander was too aggressive and assured yesterday for second seed Jeevan Neduncheziyan’s comfort, the Indian going down 6-4, 6-2.

“It is always good feeling to win a match against an opponent ranked higher than you. Heat is a factor, but as players touring different countries we have to adjust ourselves,” said Sitak, who has spent most of the year playing at higher-level tournaments than Futures, such as Challengers and ATP events.

Neduncheziyan, who is skipping the third week here and heading back to India to play in a Futures down south in Dharwar, admitted it had been “a disappointing two weeks.”

Sitak is also packing up after this event ahead of a planned break from tennis to spend a couple of weeks back home before the festive season.

Seedings held good in the top half of the draw yesterday, with the number one seed Ti Chen of Taiwan giving very little away to Algerian qualifier Mehdi Bouras in a 6-2, 6-2 win.

But things were not so easy for fourth-seeded Briton Alexander Ward, who had to overcome a determined Dekel Bar and a testy first-set tie-break against the Israeli qualifier before earning his semi-final ticket to play Ti Chen 7-6, 6-2.

To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at hirimanju@yahoo.com

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