Cambodia’s wild card pick Bun Kenny ruffled a few feathers before going down gamely to top seeded Vishnu Vardhan of India 7-6, 6-2 in the first round of the US$15,000 ITF Men’s Futures tennis tournament at the National Training Centre yesterday.
It took two hours and five minutes for the lanky 23-year-old Indian, ranked 387 in the world, to subdue Bun Kenny, 20, who had picked up his first ATP point barely two months ago in Laos.
Momentum had swung back and forth like a yo-yo during a high tensile first set during which saw the players trade several break games and produce numerous long rallies. The stockily-built Vardhan thrives on pace, but Bun Kenny was expertly pulling the tournament favourite out of his comfort zone and forcing him to work a lot harder than he would have wished.
However, the top seed’s vast circuit experience came into play in a dramatic first set tie-break as the Cambodian allowed his pent up emotions to get the better of him.
At the start of the tie-break, Kenny stormed into a 3-0 lead, but a sudden rush of blood to the head had him throw away the advantage through a series of unforced errors.
Vardhan’s relief was written large across his face after clinching the set with a delicate drop shot, especially as several of his previous attempts had been dealt with severely by Bun Kenny.
The equation then dramatically turned the Indian’s way, and with assurance draining out of his opponent, the rest of the match was just a question of time and margin.
“The way Bun Kenny came fighting back in the first set, and the tie-break was really impressive,” said Vardhan, who won his first Futures event in New Delhi nearly two years ago.
“I had problems adjusting to the court. I have not seen him play and I do not know much about these courts. I normally wish to play a couple of yards behind the baseline, [but]
I couldn’t do that because the ball was coming a lot slower and also keeping low.
“It was quite tough. I feel I didn’t touch my best today, but this experience will certainly help me,” he said, adding that his serves should improve now he knew what pressure to use to avoid breaking strings.
Cambodian National team head coach Braen Aneiros noted that his player had let the occasion get the better of him.
“Kenny tried to rush after taking that early advantage in the tie-break,” he said,
Bun Kenny, for his part, said it was a frustrating feeling to see the first set slip through his fingers.
“I knew I had a good chance. Somehow, I allowed the pressure to get at me,” he said.
Later, Thailand’s No 1 Danai Udomchoke was the centre of attraction when he took the court as the event’s fourth seed against Vijayant Malik of India. In quick time, the 28-year-old was unveiling his superb court craft to the point of driving the Indian youngster to a state of desperation.
Stroking the ball fluently from both flanks, Danai called the shots and dictated the terms on the way to a 6-1, 6-1 victory.
“My percentages on first serve was not quite good today. I need to work on that aspect,” said Danai after the match.
“I was quite happy with my touch. It was hot out there but being a Thai, I am used to these conditions.
“The courts played a little slower than I expected and also kept a trifle low at times,” added the Thai star, who was once ranked as high as 77 in the world.
In other games yesterday, Russia’s Ervand Gasparyan carved out a 6-2, 7-5 victory over Kim Cheong Eui of South Korea and in an all Indian affair, 18-year-old Yuki Bhambri, seeded fifth here, got the better of qualifier Divij Sharan 7-6, 6-2.