Mumbai: Top seed J Vishnu Vardhan had to dig deep into his reserves to overcome a spirited challenge from a rival placed 500 places below him and enter the singles second round in the USD 15,000 CCI-ITF men's Futures tennis tournament on Tuesday.
Vishnu, who took part in singles as well as doubles (with veteran Leander Paes) at the London Games and played a key role in piloting India past New Zealand in the Asia-Oceania Group I play-off tie recently, fought hard to chalk out a 6-4 5-7 6-3 victory in two hours and 16 minutes over Secunderabad city rival Ashwin Vijayraghavan.
The 25-year-old six-footer, ranked 272nd in the world, was on course for a straight-set win when he served for the match at 5-3 in the second set before his 20-year-old rival, an occasional practice partner of Vishnu too, clawed his way back.
However, Ashwin -- ranked 823 -- lost his steam in the sweltering heat after clinching the second set and was broken twice in the decider to help Vishnu earn a second round clash against Croatian Mate Pavic, the ninth seed, tomorrow.
"It was not one of my best days. I was not physically 100 per cent. The first round is always difficult. He's a talented player and knows my game well as we come from the same city. I am taking one match at a time," said Vishnu after a tough first outing at the Cricket Club of India.
Pavic, ranked 463, came back from a set down to oust qualifier Rakshay Thakkar of India in three sets in another opening round encounter that lasted one hour and 48 minutes.
Fourth seed Huang Liang-Chi (Taipei), fifth seed Saketh Myneni, number seven Vijayant Malik, number 15 Kaza Vinayak Sharma, number 16 Chie-Fu Wang (Chinese Taipei) and number 19 Mohit Mayur also reached round two.