Photo: Takeo TanumaVishnu Vardhan (IND)
India’s Vishnu Vardhan, 23, climbed to a new career high ATP Singles Ranking of 312 with the release of the May 9th rankings list, thanks, in part, to his performances throughout the month of April and is our featured player for this month.
April began, for Vardhan, on his favoured hard court surface at an ITF Pro Circuit tournament in Chandigarh. As a Wild Card entrant, Vardhan was named as the tournament’s top seed in the singles event and also for the doubles event with his regular partner Divij Sharan, also from India. Vardhan opened with a straight sets win but was forced to come from a set down in his second round match to earn a place in the quarterfinal.
The quarterfinal draw brought him into competition with a fellow seed, Murad Inoyatov who was seeded fifth. This match saw him return to winning in straight sets as he posted a 61 64 win to move into a semifinal with another seeded player, Belgium’s Julien Dubail, the No. 3 seed. This battle for a place in the final was closely contested by both players and a 64 64 victory for Vardhan set up a final between the top two seeds.
An all-Indian final between No. 1 seed Vardhan and second seeded Yuki Bhambri kept the watching spectators thoroughly entertained as the two players fought hard for each point. The match swung in favour of Bhambri when he took the opening set 64 but Vardhan put this firmly behind him and levelled the contest with a 75 second set win.
The title was going to go right to the wire and neither player let up during the deciding third set. The title match was finally settled by a 63 score line with Vardhan emerging the victor to claim his first singles title of 2011.
Success also came Vardhan’s way in the doubles event which also saw a final contested by the top two seeds. Vardhan and Sharan wrapped up a career 12th ITF Pro Circuit title together with a 64 46 [10-7] win over Hsin-Han Lee of Chinese Taipei and his partner Bumpei Sato of Japan.
For the remainder of the month, Vardhan was to concentrate his efforts solely on singles competition. Noida was the venue of his second tournament this month and Vardhan was once again playing on hard courts. Seeded third on this occasion, Vardhan came through a tight first round encounter with Indian Wild Card Chandril Sood, winning 64 76(0).
Two further victories followed to take the 23-year old into a semifinal with Karan Rostogi, the No. 2 seed. Vardhan dropped the first set 7-5 on a tie break before hitting back instantly in a second set he dominated, losing just the one game, to level the match. The deciding set followed much the same pattern as the opening set and, as in the first set, a tie break was needed to separate the two players.
This time Vardhan was successful, dropping four points as took his place in a second consecutive final. Korea’s fourth seeded player Young-Jun Kim provided the opposition on the other side of the court and this was to prove to be another close three setter. It was Vardhan who seized the advantage in this final as he opened up a one set lead, winning 75. Kim brought the match back onto level terms with a 63 second set win but it was Vardhan who then went on to take the title with a tense 15-13 tie break win in the deciding set.
This title triumph represented the first time that Vardhan had successfully won back-to-back singles titles on the ITF Pro Circuit.
The final port of call this month for Vardhan was Chennai. Fresh from his title winning performances of the previous weeks, Vardhan, seeded second, enjoyed a relatively comfortable start, winning in straight sets in the opening two rounds. These wins brought about a quarterfinal with seventh seed Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan of India.
Following a close 75 win in the first set, Vardhan pushed on and dominated the second set to record a 75 62 win. The semifinal saw Vardhan up against for the fourth seed from Belgium, Julien Dubail. The two had previously faced each other in Chandigarh, coincidentally also a semifinal match, which Vardhan took in straight sets.
Vardhan once again came out on top in their encounter but this time he was made to come from behind to earn his victory and a place in a third successive final. Swedish qualifier Patrik Rosenholm, playing in his first ITF Pro Circuit singles final in almost three years was Vardhan’s opponent in this final.
Unfortunately, whilst leading 65 in the opening set, Vardhan’s quest for a hat-trick of singles titles in April was brought to an end when he was forced to retire from the match, handing the title to his Swedish opponent.