A capital win as Jeevan lifts national title
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In almost two decades of playing across the country, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan had never won a tournament on the courts of the RK Khanna Stadium, earlier called the Delhi Lawn Tennis Association complex. Even last year, when he signed up for three back to back ITF tournaments at Pune, Delhi and Kolkata and won the singles title at the other venues but lost in the second round at Delhi. Top seeded at the national championships, the left hander finally came good at Delhi as he won the national title beating Pune's Arjun Khade 7-6 (4) 6-1.
Coming into the tournament with a side strain that caused a six week layoff, Jeevan chose to play his first nationals instead of hitting the Challenger circuit. "The aim for this week really was to come out of it without aggravating my injury. I know that all the Davis Cuppers — Yuki Bhambri, Vishnu Vardhan, Sanam Singh — are missing from action here so it was a good opportunity for the second rung to step up and gain some confidence and that's what I have done," said Jeevan, who will turn 24 this month.
The 398-ranked player in the world had dropped only a set the whole tournament. but was against a big-serving Kadhe. Jeevan only had three break points in the entire set on Kadhe's serve and he couldn't convert any. The 18-year old however started lagging in intensity during the tiebreak as five out of the seven points that Jeevan won came out of Kadhe's shots going wide.
From then on, Kadhe, who had played well to reach the final, could hold his serve only once, in the opener of the second set. Going for the lines didn't help as he could not find the control to pull it off. After being broken in the 3rd and 5th games, he missed two overheads in the seventh to give Jeevan three break points and he sealed the first one with a backhand — ironically the flank which Kadhe had successfully attacked early on. "I think his legs gave up in the end and he started getting tired," Jeevan said. In the women's final, Prerna Bhambri saved two match points in the second set to upset top seed Rishika Sunkara, who retired in the third set with Prerna leading 2-6, 7-6(7), 4-1.