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Tata Open Maharashtra: N Sriram Balaji- Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan pair endures straight-set loss in final
1/7/2023 10:56:08 PM
agencies
NEW DELHI, Jan 7: N Sriram Balaji and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan settled for a runners-up finish at the Tata Open Maharashtra after losing the doubles title clash in straight sets to the Belgian pair of Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen in Pune on Saturday Balaji, competing in his maiden ATP Tour final, served and stroked well, but that was not enough as the Indian team lost the final 4-6 4-6 in one hour and 10 minutes.
Jeevan, playing his third ATP Tour title clash, too, served well, but the Indian just pushing and nudging the ball across the net did not help the cause of the home team.
In contrast, both players from the rival team not only served well but struck the ball hard also, making the returns a bit tough for the home favourites.
The Belgians had done extremely well towards the latter half of the 2022 season and carried forward the good form into the fresh season.
It is their sixth title together on the ATP World Tour and their first since winning in Singapore in 2021.
Balaji, as usual, was solid and served the opening game at love. Jeevan though dropped his serve in the third game. Serving at 40-30, when Gille returned, Balaji left the ball thinking it was going out of the court but it landed well inside the baseline.
On the deciding deuce point, the left-handed Vliegen dispatched an easy winner in open court to draw first blood.
Gille served out the next game comfortably as the Belgian team took a 3-1 lead.
Confident service games followed with hardly any engaging rallies and soon Balaji was serving to stay in the set. He did that with aplomb and so did Vliegen, who served out the opening set despite starting with a double fault.
In the second set too, it was the Belgian team that nosed ahead by breaking Balaji's serve in the third game. Jorna had found a crushing forehand winner past Balaji to earn a breakpoint.
Balaji saved both with his serve, but Jeevan's lob went out on the deciding point, resulting in a break.
The only time the Indians, egged on by the cheering fans, seemed like putting the rivals under some pressure was in the eighth game when Vliegen served but the southpaw held his nerves to stay ahead.
Gille closed the match with a serve that Balaji could not return.
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