20 Dec 2012

Balaji is last Indian standing

News Article

Photo: Sunil YajamanSriram Balaji (IND)

BELGAUM, INDIA: Top seed Sriram Balaji pushed his way into the semifinals of the ITF Belgaum Open at the VTU Tennis complex today at Belgaum.

Joining him are the Portuguese giant killer Andre Gaspar Murta who had knocked out another seed following his defeat of the number two seed in the previous round, American sixth seed Michael Shabaz and Torsten Wietoska from Germany who came through the qualifying event.

Balaji played nearly flawless tennis to beat the Dutch player Colin Van Beem 64 57 63 in 2hrs 34mins. Balaji broke Van Beem in the fourth game to take a lead of 4-1 but the Dutch player broke back in the seventh game to level out the breaks. Another break in the tenth game gave Balaji the first set 64 in 52mins.  It took Van Beem just one break in the eleventh game of the second set to take the second set at 75 in 55mins. 

The third set looked like a repeat of the first set when Balaji broke Van Beem in the second and fourth games to go up 4-0. Balaji then dropped his serve in the fifth game but that wasn’t enough for the Dutchman to get back into the match. Balaji served six aces in the match against two from Colin Van Beem but what was more significant was the number of doubles faults. Bilaji had six but Van Beem had eight which were the main contribution to his loss of serve at crucial time moments.

Sixth Seed Michael Shabaz played consistently to oust the third seed Theodoros Angelinos from Greece 64 64 in another quarterfinal match. Shabaz attacked Angelinos’ backhand effectively to push him back to open up the court. Shabaz had a high percentage of first serves which made it more difficult for the third seed. In a match that had very few rallies, Shabaz broke Angelinos in the ninth game of each set to take the match 64 64 in 71mins.

It was another good day at office for the Portuguese teenager who had upset second seed Sanam Singh yesterday. Gaspar Murta took out the eigth seed Jeroen Benard of the Netherlands in straight sets 75 63 to advance to the semifinals.

German qualifier Torsten Wietoska who has been enjoying a great run so far on the Karnataka circuit, again played some good tennis and moved into his third successive semifinal in as many weeks.

His 64 36 75 defeat of the seventh seed Ashwin Vijayragavan in a match that lasted 2hrs 30mins featured many disputed line calls much to the irritation of Wietoska but he regained his focus and broke Vijayraghavan in the twelfth game of the third set to take the match.

American Michael Shabaz will face the loan Indian survivor Sriram Balaji in the semifinals. After reaching two successive semifinals in Davangere & Dharwad, Torsten Wietoska will be looking to go one better this week and reach the final. Tomorrow he faces a tough challenger in the determined Portuguese teenager Andre Gaspar Murta who, incidentally, is also his practice partner this week!

If you are attending this tournament then please feel free to share your photos and comments with fellow tennis fans by posting to our official Facebook page or by including the hash-tag #ITFprocircuit if tweeting using Twitter.

Schedule for Fri, 21 December 2012:


Starting at 10.30 am

(1) Sriram Balaji vs (6) Michael Shabaz (USA)

Followed by

Andre Gaspar Murta (Por) VS (Q) Torsten Wietoska (Ger)

DOUBLES FINAL at 3.30 pm