Wild card and national champion J. Vishnu Vardhan proved he had the power and finesse as he sent seventh-seed Karan Rastogi spinning out of the ITF men's Futures meet. In a first-round match at the Jaidip Mukerjea Tennis Academy on Tuesday, Vishnu fired on all cylinders, smashing winners on both sides to win 6-3, 6-1.
Rastogi had already lost the doubles on Monday. That could have been a blessing as he could focus just on the singles. But it did not help. On the contrary, Rastogi looked fatigued in a power-packed exchange from the baseline. And the match that promised much turned out to be damp squib. Rastogi looked erratic and complicated matters as he committed a number unforced errors.
The more errors Rastogi made, the more confident Vishnu grew, taking the first set easily. Rastogi won the fourth, fifth and seventh games. In the second set, Rastogi tried to take control against a resilient Vishnu, but nothing worked in his favour. After winning the opening game, he was at the receiving end of his opponent, who claimed the next six games on the trot to seal victory.
"I don't know what happened today," said Rastogi, who left for New Delhi to take part in another leg of the Futures. "I lost confidence and that affected my game. In the second set, I was completely outplayed by Vishnu, who had a great game today."
Although the win made Vishnu, a member of the Indian Davis Cup squad happy, the Hyderabad-based player said it was a tough match. "The scoreline doesn't suggest how difficult it was. I was on my toes throughout the match. Besides, any match on clay is tough, especially during summer," he said.
Top seed Alexander Satschko of Germany and second seed Guillermo Alcaide of Spain won their matches comfortably. Satschko defeated Aditya Madkekar of India 7-5, 6-1 while Alcaide beat Ashutosh Singh 6-3, 6-1. Fourth seed Volante Matteo of Italy got the better of unseeded Divic Sharan 6-4, 6-3.
Great incentive: Rastogi
Rastogi, who is expected to get Rs 40 lakh from BCCI, which has decided to sponsor players of other disciplines, said he was not aware of the development. "My parents called me yesterday and told me about it. If it really materialises, it will be a great incentive," Rastogi said.