Grit and glory

Nathan Thompson of the United States with the ITF Futures trophy.-S. PATRONOBISH

The final was all about endurance and Nathan Thompson came out with flying colours. Amitabha Das Sharma reports.

In a tournament that tested the ability of the players to withstand severe conditions — the extreme heat and dehydration forced a host of players to retire — American Nathan Thompson showed his steely resolve to emerge champion. He, however, had to pay a price for defying the unusual heat that gripped Kolkata during the first week of the ITF Futures circuit in the country. The gutsy American, who had collapsed from dehydration after outlasting his challenger Rupesh Roy (India) in a protracted three-set final, had to be admitted to the hospital.

Thus, Thompson, 27, would remember his first Futures title of the season for reasons more than just winning a tough final. He, however, had reasons to be happy after the triumph which once again established India as his favourite hunting ground. Of the five Futures titles that he had claimed in the last four seasons, Thompson won four of them in India (he won the other title in Thailand).

Rupesh Roy, who has had a long stint in Europe and America, was the favourite. He had a fine tournament, winning all his matches with authority until the final.

Roy, seeded No. 6, won the first set against Thompson which appeared to brighten his chances of the title in his third appearance in a Futures final. The script, however, went awry for the Indian thereafter, as Thompson, seeded No. 8, stormed back into the match. Though the newly laid hard-courts of the Pailan World School Academy radiated heat in the mid-day sun, the American unleashed his touch-play. He broke Roy thrice to level the set score 1-1.

Thompson, sweating profusely and using an ice-bag to cool himself down during breaks, was unrelenting in the decider which turned into a battle of attrition. Rupesh, who had impressed with his placements and powerful returns, had to finally give up against his opponent's doggedness.

Top-seeded Vishnu Vardhan of India (second round), second-seeded Juan-Pablo Villar of Argentina (first round) and third-seeded Rohan Gajjar of India (second round) made early exits owing to dehydration. Seventh-seeded Mikhail Vasiliev (Russia) also retired in the first round following an injury which saw the number of seeded players halved by the second round.

Among the unseeded Indian players who did well were N. Vijay Sundar Prashanth and Karan Rastogi, making a comeback following a long injury layoff. Both of them lost to Rupesh Roy — Rastogi in the quarterfinals and Prashanth in the semifinals.

India's Vivek Shokeen and Ashutosh Singh, seeded No. 4, won the doubles title, beating compatriots and top seeds, Divij Sharan and Vishnu Vardhan, in the final.