A touch of cruel irony marked the sad exit of second seeded Marin Bradaric of Croatia from the quarterfinals of the ITF NagaWorld Futures Championships at the National Training Centre today.
The tall, well-built Croatian right-hander endured an hour and half of untimely rain delay to hit his way through the first set on a tie breaker against sixth-seeded Maximillian Neuchrist of Austria only to find the return of the gilding sunshine trouble him in a bizzare fashion.
At the start of the second set, the second seed felt the first signs of heat exaustion though he battled on, losing a tight second set at 5-7.
But at the start of the third it was apparent Bradaric was in no shape to continue. He walked away from the court for some much needed medical attention. Bradaric is the fourth player in four days to retire due to heat related problems.
The Austrian who had fought on level footing most of the way got through to the semi-finals for a match up against Mico Santiago of the United States, who ended Katsushi Fukuda’s dream run 6-1, 6-1.
The Samurai Warrior, as the Japanese fans fondly call him, the 36-year old Fukuda had no answer to the American’s aggressive all court play.
“Fukuda could not relive Wednesday’s magic. Yet we have to salute his steely resolve. He has justified in no mean measure our decision to give him a wild card” noted Tennis Federation of Cambodia Secretary General Tep Rithivit.
At the top half of the draw, third-seeded Axel Michon bounced back from a first set loss to post a 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 win over fellow Frenchman Antoine Escoffier, seeded sixth.
The left handed Axel Michon was swept off his feet in the first set and just as the long-haired Escoffier was riding out that momentum came a critical rain break. When the players returned, Axel Michon wasnt the same.
“The break really helped me. I went back to the Locker room. Gathered my thoughts and decided that I had to play more aggressively.When I got back I just did that” Michon told the Post after his victory.
A visibly upset Escoffier could hardly raise his tempo in the third set after Michon grabbed an early break and tenaciously built on it.
The third seed will now meet New Zealander Artem Sitak, who completely dominated eighth-seeded Sebestien boltz of France in a 6-1, 6-1 rout.
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at [email protected]