Arjun Kadhe tried. He gave it his all. But what cost him most was the difference in fitness levels.
After a close fight in the first set, Kadhe was unable to keep the momentum as Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan steamrolled the teenager in the second to win his maiden national hardcourt title.
The top seed from Tamil Nadu was crowned the Fenesta national champion after a 7-6 (4), 6-1 victory at the DLTA complex on Saturday.
“The first set could have gone either way. But after that I could see Kadhe getting tired. He has a bright future but needs to work on his endurance,” the 23-year-old said, relieved to have finally gotten rid of the DLTA curse. Curse you ask? “I’ve been playing here since I was 13, but have never managed to win at this venue,” he added.
Jeevan came into the tournament hoping to have an injury-free week. Winning would be a bonus.
This was his first tournament after suffering from a minor tear in the stomach in August. “The best thing I will take home from this is that I did not face any problems,” he said.
Kadhe refused to budge in the first set. Matching his older opponent shot for shot and serve for serve, Jeevan struggled to close out the set. But once he pocketed the first set in tie-break, Kadhe’s game fell apart.
Making too many unforced errors, he was unable to up his game, finding it difficult to counter Jeevan’s heavy topspins.
The women’s crown went to city girl Prerna Bhambri. After losing the first set 2-6, she came back strong against state-mate, Rishika Sunkara, to pocket the second 7-6(7). In the decider, the top-seed conceded when she was 1-4 down due to ill health.