Clin­i­cal Moutet clinches ti­tle

Comes up with a thor­ough game­plan against Har­ris

The Hindu - - SPORT - S. Di­pak Ra­gav

The 19-year-old Corentin Moutet came into the tour­na­ment as the sec­ond seed and, on Sun­day, he showed why Roger Fed­erer in­vited the French­man to come and hit with him in Dubai in De­cem­ber last year, with a clin­i­cal 6-3, 6-3 win over An­drew Har­ris to clinch the ATP Chen­nai Open Chal­lenger here.

The left-han­der sys­tem­at­i­cally de­con­structed Har­ris’ game and from very early on it was ev­i­dent the French­man had his game­plan worked out. In the first set, both play­ers held their serves till 3-3 be­fore Moutet got the break in the sev­enth game. It did not help at this point, Har­ris was strug­gling with his first serve.

In that game, he started with a dou­ble­fault be­fore he tried to over­com­pen­sate, com­mit­ting a cou­ple of fore­hand er­rors be­fore Moutet pro­duced a win­ner to take the break.

The French­man then broke again to take the set 6-3, tar­get­ing the one-handed back­hand of Har­ris, im­part­ing spin and high-bounc­ing strokes to in­duce er­rors.

This and the sturdy de­fence dis­played by Moutet prompted the In­dian ten­nis le­gend and TNTA pres­i­dent Vi­jay Am­ri­traj to quip that the French­man re­minded him of a young Rafael Nadal.

One of the best points of the match came at deuce early in the sec­ond set on the Har­ris serve with Moutet push­ing the Aus­tralian on the back­hand flank be­fore send­ing in a deep re­turn to which Har­ris had no an­swer.

In the fourth game of the set, Moutet took the strat­egy to the next level as Har­ris com­mit­ted three er­rors off his back­hand, go­ing down 0-4 in no time.

Har­ris then won the next two games but the teenager quickly found his bear­ings back and held his next two ser­vice games eas­ily to claim his third chal­lenger ti­tle.

Tac­ti­cally out­played

Speak­ing af­ter the match Har­ris con­ceded he was out­played tac­ti­cally say­ing, “He knew what he had to do from the start and he ex­e­cuted it well. I could have used my slice back­hand a bit more, but it wasn’t to be.”

“My game plan for win­ning the match was not to out-rally him be­cause that would be play­ing into his strengths. I had to play ag­gres­sively,” he added when asked if he had to take a lot more risks with his fore­hands.

R. RAGU ■

Top prize: Corentin Moutet faced lit­tle re­sis­tance in the sum­mit clash.

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