Often when a former star is pitted against a promising talent, a cracker of a match can be expected. That was the case when Vishnu Vardhan and Sunil Kumar Sipaeya faced off at the DLTA courts on Tuesday.
Coming off a good showing at the recent Davis Cup tie against Japan, the top-seeded Vardhan had drawn Sipaeya in his first round match of the Fenesta Open National Tennis Championship.
The light-eyed Sipaeya, who had captured the country's imagination when he won this tournament as a 16-year-old in 1999, was ready for the action.
Both began firmly, refusing to relinquish serve. If Vardhan tried to change baseline tactics in his service game, Sipaeya counter-attacked with drop shots in the next. However, it was the tie-break which portrayed Vardhan's hunger. Upping his service, he blew Sipaeya off the court and pocketed the first set 7-6(3).
Sipaeya, who is currently enjoying a stint in the US, didn't lose hope. Enjoying his time on court, he showed the old spark. However, what led to his defeat were unforced errors. At 3-4 down, he missed two crucial break points. And serving a double fault on match point, he handed the tie on a platter.
"I didn't feel that I would lose today but was ready for the challenge. I've watched Sunil play and feel that he is the best player our system has produced," said the 24-year-old Vardhan.
In the day's biggest upset, 15-year-old Asian junior champion Rutuja Bhosale saw off top seed Prerna Bhambri 6-2, 4-6, 7-5. The top-seeded junior played her trademark big forehands and improved backhands to emerge victorious.
In previous editions, one would always find a bigger crowd. However, with closed qualifying (only 64 entries in the qualifying in every event) coming into effect, the audience has dwindled.