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Danai wins first Futures event

Danai wins first Futures event

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Thailand’s Danai Udomchoke plays a shot during the ITF Men’s Futures tournament final against India’s Vishnu Vardhan at the National Training Centre yesterday. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun

Fourth seeded Danai Udomchoke of Thailand, who got into the US$15,000 ITF Men’s Futures as a wild card, brought his unquestionable class and credentials to bear as he convincingly beat top seeded Vishnu Vardhan of India 6-2, 6-3 in the final at the National Training Centre yesterday.

“This victory means a lot to me. I set out this year to get into the top 200 and I am happy I won here,” said Danai, whose status as among the top 100 in the world four years ago has suffered a dip down to his current 458th ranking due to an injury related slump in form.

“It is a memorable one for me personally to be part of Cambodia’s first ever international event,” he added.

Vishnu, meanwhile, voiced his disappointment. “I just could not strike the ball as well as I would have wished,” he said during a post-match courtside interview.

“Danai taught me a few important lessons today.  I hope I can get my act together this week in the second event.”

The 23-year-old from Hyderabad produced two exquisite approach volleys in his first service game to keep Danai on notice. But when the Thai responded with a couple of line-straddling passes as the set reached its midway point, the top seed clearly lost his rhythm.

A break in the fifth game was an inevitable consequence of Vishnu’s unsure steps and Danai’s increasing control. Armed with this early break, the wild card forced the top seed into a series of errors compounded by two double faults, and the set was Danai’s for the asking.

The 387th ATP ranked Indian, looking for his second Futures success after his 2009 triumph in New Delhi, began the second set on a promising note. But Danai’s mixed bag of rolled backhands and chips and an occasional flourish on his forehands kept him guessing throughout the match.

With Vishnu missing out on his first serves, his second inevitably came under the hammer. The hard nosed professional that Danai has always been kept closing in on the Indian as he ran out a deserved victory.

In the quarterfinals on Friday, Vishnu Vardhan got past Russia’s Ervand Gasparyan 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. Vishnu was then forced to dig deep into his reserves to get the measure of Japan’s Toshihide Matsui 7-6, 7-5 in the semifinals on Saturday.

Danai Udomchoke on the other hand enjoyed a trouble free run beating Rohan Gajjar of India 6-3, 6-1 in the quarterfinals, and was absolutely at ease when he faced his doubles partner Kittipong Wachiramanowong in the semifinals, dishing out a 6-2, 6-3 defeat.

Danai is giving the second event here this week a miss, and instead will head to Australia today for the $50,000 Challenger event in Caloundra.

Meanwhile, the eight qualifiers for the second $15,000 ITF Futures were decided yesterday evening, with the 32-player main-draw matches beginning today. The final of this week’s event is slated for next Saturday.

Senior Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh, who is also the president of the Tennis Federation of Cambodia, presided over yesterday’s final and distributed the trophies to the singles winner and runner-up.

On Saturday at the National Training Centre, Danai and his fellow countryman Kittípong pooled their vast experience and skills to a good measure to topple the top seeded Indian team of Vishnu Vardhan and Sharan Divij 6-4, 6-4 in the doubles final.

The third seeded Thai pair had walked into the contest soon after battling each other in the singles semifinal, but as a team they were remarkably efficient. They managed a solitary break in each of the two sets to emerge worthy winners.

“We had a couple of break points but we missed them, and one break proved decisive in both the sets,” said Vishnu after the match.

On the way to the final, the Indians got the better of Ervand Gasparyan and Estonian partner Vladimir Ivanov 6-2, 2-6, 12-10 in the semifinals, while the Thai duo downed Liang Chi Huang and Quyang Bower 7-5, 7-6.

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