Vishwakarma beats Arjun Kade to Fenesta Open title

In a gripping contest, left-handed Siddharth Vishwakarma prevailed in three sets over the top seed.

Siddharth Vishwakarma (left) and Mahak Jain, the winners of the National Tennis Championship in Delhi on Saturday.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

It was a gutsy fare from wily left-hander Siddharth Vishwakarma, but it was a broken gut that possibly cost the national title yet again for Arjun Kadhe, as the Fenesta National Tennis Championship rose to a heady climax at the DLTA Complex on Saturday.

While the 17-year-old Mahak Jain retained the women’s title with a fluent 6-1, 6-2 victory over Natasha Palha, Siddharth Vishwakarma really pushed his luck before being crowned the national champion as he beat the top seed and favourite Arjun Kadhe 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-3 in a
gripping contest.

For someone who has hardly played any tennis in the last eight months owing to ill-health Siddharth really stepped it up in the decider after overcoming a bout of cramps midway through the final. Even after the prize distribution, Siddharth needed attention as the cramps
gripped him yet again.

"In the second set, I was low on energy. In the third set, I tried to play my best’’, said Siddharth, who got a second wind at the crunch.

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More than that, he saw destiny saving a breakpoint for him in the ninth game, when Arjun broke his string and kept rallying at the net with all the craft he could muster, before the broken string failed him. It was enough for Siddharth, who closed out the match in style with an ace.

"I didn’t rush when Arjun broke the string. It was a lucky point for me’’, Siddharth conceded.

As he has been whipping the serves and the forehand viciously all week, Siddharth said that he was having "pain in the shoulder and elbow’’.

Yet, the title was a big relief for him, and a balm to all the pain, especially after he had lost the final to Vishnu Vardhan, in 2016.

"I wanted to be in the final. Playing Arjun, I felt confident that I had a chance’’, he said.

Except for dropping serve in the sixth game of the decider with a lose game, Arjun was quite smart. He was particularly brilliant when he chased down a drop that was spinning back into Siddharth’s side of the court, and lent a timely blow thrusting his racquet across the net,
without touching it, in the seventh game of the second set.

Arjun was champion class after a slow start, before Siddharth provided a sharp twist to the script in the end.

Mahak was far too smart to give any chance for a nervous Natasha, especially as the latter did not push her to a better standard.

Mahak ran up a 5-0 lead and stroked with conviction into the corners to exasperate Natasha, who was tentative for the most part, and failed to unleash her best game.

"It feels great to win the title again. I do miss the junior circuit, especially the Grand Slams, but am keen to do well in the international women’s circuit. I am training hard to improve’’, said
Mahak, who is coached by Sajid Lodi.

"Mahak was composed and played well. Last year, I was worried every round. This year, she really played including the semifinal against Prerna Bhambri. I was relaxed this time’’, said coach Sajid Lodi.

The men’s and women’s champions were presented Rs.300,000 each and the runners-up Rs.200,000 each. Former India hockey captain Sardara Singh was the chief guest and presented the prizes, along with the Chairman of DCM Shriram Group, Ajay Shriram, and a few officials of the All India Tennis Association (AITA) including the secretary general Hironmoy Chatterjee.

In the junior section, Siddhant Banthia and Humera Shaik won the title in the boys and girls sections respectively, beating Calvin Golmei and Rashmikaa Shrivalli Bhamidipaty respectively.

The results (finals)

Men: Siddharth Vishwakarma bt Arjun Kadhe 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-3.

Women: Mahak Jain bt Natasha Palha 6-1, 6-2.

Under-18 boys: Siddhant Banthia bt Calvin Golmei 7-6(0), 6-2.

Under-18 girls: Humera Shaik bt Rashmikaa Shrivalli Bhamidipaty 6-2, 6-4.
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