STO Top Dbls pair of Vliegen and Gillé struggle to reach the last 4!
by Circle News, on Feb 25, 2021 4:02:33 PM
(Joran Vliegen and Sander Gillé)
By Dillon Lim
The first match of Day 4 of the Singapore Tennis Open saw the Top seeded Belgian pair of Joran Vliegen and Sander Gillé, up against the Indian duo of Purav Raja and Ramkumar Ramanathan in the quarterfinals on centre court, for a place in the last 4.
Both pairs started off strong holding their serves and finishing the point quickly at the net. Shortly after at 1-1, the top seeds found themselves with 4 break points on Raja’s serve and they broke on the 3rd break point. The Belgians quickly consolidated the break with a strong hold to lead 3-1, with Vliegen’s lefty serve giving them easy points. The Indian duo then followed up with a strong service hold of their own on Ramanathan’s serve. Both pairs seemed to have found their rhythm, wining their service games with no trouble, taking the score to 4-3 for the top seeds. Another hold from Gillé meant that Ramanathan would serve to stay alive in the first set at 3-5 down. The Indian fired 3 big serves while winning 4 straight points to put the Belgians to the test of serving for the set at 5-4. The Vliegen-Gillé duo won 4 straight points themselves on the lefty’s serve, after Ramanathan hit a return winner down the middle against them, to close the set 6-4.
(Purav Raja and Ramkumar Ramanathan)
The Indians started the 2nd set strong when Ramanathan served 3 consecutive aces in a quick game to lead 1-0. The next three games were held to love with ease as both pairs hit a few unreturned serves. In the blink of an eye, the set was level at 2-2. Raja then displayed his soft hands to close out his partner’s service game for a 3-2 lead. The next game was closer when Gillé hit a forehand long to bring the score to 40-30, but he hit an ace right after to level things at 3-3. Raja held his serve comfortably with several big serves and errors from his opponents, putting the Indians in front at 4-3.
The shot of the match came at 3-4 (40-0) on Vliegen’s serve. After Ramanathan managed to defend an overhead smash, Raja hit a half volley passing shot from the middle of the court that clipped the doubles line, before shouting “Come on!”. However, the number 1 seeds did not let that affect them, and closed out the game in the very next point to even the score at 4-4. And at 4-5, 40-30, Gillé fired a rocket of an ace at 211km/h to send the match to 5-5. The next game saw Ramanathan showcase his great touch by using the angles to hit a backhand volley past Vliegen, before an unforced error from the Belgians put the Indians ahead at 6-5.
Vliegen showed signs of nerves when he made three errors while serving to stay in the set. His opponents saw set point at 40-40, but a lefty serve out wide on the ad court set Gillé up for an easy slam dunk smash to send the set into a tiebreak. Ramanathan double faulted the first point of the tiebreak to give the top seeds an early mini break. However, he redeemed himself by hitting a backhand return passing shot to get the mini break back. A beautifully timed one-handed backhand lob by Gillé saw the top seeds break again and lead 3-2 in the tiebreak.
A quick succession of service returns out and into the net took the score to 5-3 in favor of the Belgians, before a deep backhand forced Ramanathan to make an error. With 3 match points in hand, Gillé hit a forehand passing shot winner on the first to seal the tiebreak and the match, 6-4 7-6(3). The 2nd set was a much closer affair, but the top seeds prevailed. They had the right tactics on crucial points and they could define their own risks.
Vliegen and Gillé advance to the last 4, and will face the winners from the match of Bambridge and Inglot vs Cerretani and Shamasdin for a spot in the grand finals.
(Edited by Raj Kumar)
Dillon Lim is in his final year of university. He enjoys playing tennis and has been in love with the game since he was a kid. The 23 year old used to play competitively for Raffles Institution and was in the junior national training squad before leaving to study in the UK. And he still plays for his current university. Off the court, Dillon enjoys watching tennis matches and always keeps up with the very latest tournaments.
**In case you missed this exciting match, we've got you covered! Just click HERE to watch the full match (Joran Vliegen and Sander Gillé vs Purav Raja & Ramkumar Ramanathan)
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