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Rediff.com  » Sports » Rastogi earns Rotterdam wildcard

Rastogi earns Rotterdam wildcard

Source: PTI
Last updated on: December 04, 2005 21:37 IST
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Karan Rastogi retained the ABN Amro Tennis Challenge title after an upset victory over country's number one player Harsh Mankad at the R K Khanna stadium in New Delhi on Sunday.

The 19-year old showed great mental toughness and also proved that last year's win at the same event was not a fluke as he scored a 7-6 (4), 6-2 win against Mankad.

The triumph, under the lights in bitter cold, helped Rastogi get the qualifying draw wild card for the 765,000-euro ATP Tour event in Rotterdam, Holland, in February next year.

The Mumbai lad, who had lost in the first round of the qualifiers at one of the biggest indoor events on the circuit last time, said he hoped to do better this time.

"I think I am more ready this time ... to beat (Rohan) Bopanna and Mankad who have been doing well in the same event gives a lot of confidence," said Rastogi who pocketed USD 4,500 as winner's prize money.

For Mankad, the highest ranked Indian on the ATP circuit at 226, it was a disappointing end, particularly to be beaten by a player who is about 140 places below him in rankings.

Mankad was up 5-3 with a break in the very first game of the first set. But serving for the set at 5-4, the 27-year old made a doublefault and then put a backhand long to face a break point.

Rastogi, who has been his practice partner on the circuit and has been sharing the room this weekend, converted it with a backhand pass, a shot that he has been using as a killer weapon in this tournament.

Mankad gave credit to his young rival but said the crowd did upset him towards the end.

The final, originally to be played at 2.00 pm, was pushed behind celebrity singles matches and was followed by the mixed-doubles match featuring Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi against Richard Krajicek and sister Michaela.

With temperature falling to about six degrees celsius, the restless spectators were shouting for a quick finish of Mankad-Rastogi tie.

As it were, Mankad, who had been clearly the best player on view till the first set, was broken thrice in the second set.

He had five breakpoints in the 10th game when Rastogi served for the match, but the latter held his nerve and clinched it with an ace.

Mankad later admitted that he did not take his chances.

"I missed a few volleys in the first set when I went for it. And then the balls started flying. But credit to him, he played better as the match went," he said.

Mankad, who earned USD 3,000 for the effort, said in the end Rastogi's mental toughness won him the match.

"He is a solid player ... did not give any free points. He has become physically fitter and stronger.

"He scored lot of winners on the backhand. Service is not really great but he has a high first serve percentage."

Rastogi said he was happy with the win but did not feel that he has become India's number one player after beating two Davis Cuppers.

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