Chennai: The young Indian pair of Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Sriram Balaji went down fighting tonight to second seeded American pair of Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram in the doubles event of the Aircel Chennai Open 2012.
Nedunchezhiyan and Balaji, aged 23 and 21 respectively, displayed admirable spunk in their 5-7, 4-6 defeat, even breaking them at least twice in the match.
Nedunchezhiyan has a doubles ranking of 993 while Balaji's is 610. The Ram-Lipsky duo's ranking is 74. The Indian pair thrived on the back of Balaji's strong serving -- which crossed 190 kmph consistently -- and Nedunchezhiyan's impressive net-play.
The Indians were on a par with their American opponents in the first set, going 5-5 before Ram and Lipsky managed to pull away.
Many a time, they had their opponents pinned to the baseline after Balaji's thunderbolt serves and won out the point with Nedunchezhiyan's overhead smash. Ram and Lipsky's experience, however, helped them to tide over their opponents and book a second round spot in the doubles event.
Earlier in the day, the Spanish pair of Nicolas Almagro and Pere Riba downed the veteran Austro-German duo of Julian Knowles and Michael Kohlmann 6-7(4), 6-4 (10-4) in an entertaining encounter that went to tie-breakers twice. Almagri and Riba will meet the Israeli pair of Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich in the second round.
Battling back after losing the first set in a tie-breaker, the Spanish pair reeled in three successive games in the second set to go 5-3 up from being 2-3 down on their way to forcing a match tie-breaker.
They took a 7-2 lead in the ten-point match tie-breaker before Almagro eventually clinched the match with a deftly placed backhanded return from a forward position.
The Spanish pair matched Knowles and Kohlmann, both 37-years-old veterans, shot for shot as their opponents struggled to deal with 200 kmph serves. 23-year-old Riba, in particular, used the far corners of the court smartly and left their older opponents trailing for the ball.
Early in the game, Knowles and Kohlmann had exploited Riba's weak backhand even as Almagro tried to compensate by deftly placing shots.
Almagro and Riba broke their opponents in games four, 10 and 12 in the first set and games three and seven in the second. Knowles and Kohlmann broke their opponents in games three, five and 11 and game two in the second.
Elsewhere, Steve Darcis of Belgium saw off Blaz Kavcic of Slovakia 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 to enter the second round of the singles draw.