Report by Vishnu Reddy
It was a mixed day for Indians at the Roland Garros Day I of qualifying. Only Prajnesh Gunneswaran made it past the opening hurdle, as Sumit Nagal and Ramkumar Ramanathan faltered after fighting hard for three sets.
It was a holiday in Paris and it attracted one of its biggest audiences today.
A brief match summary report below –
[Q1] Sumit Nagal (IND, 223) l Martin Kližan (SLK, 117) 6-4 4-6 1-6
A FOCUSSED SUMIT NAGAL WAS ON DISPLAY ON COURT 8
Sumit was coming from a bad stretch of form, having lost 5 matches in a row. Martin, on the other hand, has had a great run beating the likes of Novak Djokovic, Damir Dzumhur, Feliciano Lopez and others in the past month. Martin is also a former Junior Roland Garros winner and a consistent top-50 Pro Tour player. He also held three set points against the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal, a couple of weeks back in Barcelona.
The advantage was clearly with Martin.
A 10 AM start. Sumit started off aggresively with nothing to lose and after some break of serve exchanges, took the first set 6-4 with lead of 2-1 on break of serve. Sumit lost a service game after being 40-0 up but also pulled back another service game after being 0-40 down.
Sumit had the momentum and the unforced error count was increasing for Martin Klizan. Sumit pulled for a 4-2 lead again. Around this time, Martin was getting frustrated as well and had received a warning for breaking his racquet in frustration. Around this time, Sumit had a very tough game and was broken at 15. This proved a pivotal a significant momentum change – Martin started having a greater first serve percentage, reduced his unforced error and this tilted the balance. Sumit lost 4 games at this stage.
The momentum shift continued and Sumit lost overall 9 games in a row to lose the set 1-6.
- Martin’s unforced error count moved from 25 in the first set to 7 in the third set
- Martin’s serve percentage from 60 to about 70% in the 3rd set
Momentum shift happened with the break of serve when Sumit was leading 6-4 4-3
Q&A with Sumit after the match
You were leading 6-4 4-2. What do you think caused the momentum shift?
Tennis is all about momentums. I was playing decent good tennis, leading and then the momentum changed. He started playing better, putting more balls in and I had to change my game plan then. Lost my confidence a bit and thats where things went upside down.
You have been involved with Javier Ferrer for the last 4-5 months now. How has the journey been so far.
It has been going alright. Lot of things to focus and improve on, I have been focusing on them. Results will come and go, for me, more important is the process and the effort around it.
Any special preparation done for the French Open?
No, just the normal 2-week of training period and then came by to play the tournament.
Where are you playing next – anything finalized?
Nothing planned yet.
[Q1] Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND,183) d. Salvatore Caruso (ITA,228) 64 64
Prajnesh was coming off from the break for his exams in Frankfurt. Though his last win (in Anning) was on Clay, European Clay is very different.
His opponent, an Italian clay courter, hasn’t had a great start to the season and has not won a match in the clay court season yet (0-4 record till now).
The study break with no match experience on European clay this season, made it a close match on paper with a slight edge to Prajnesh.
Prajnesh was clearly the better player in this match. He won the first set with 2 breaks to 1 and in the second, held on with a break to win 6-4 and 6-4.
Prajnesh served big with few aces when he was breakpoint. The better player won the match.
Prajnesh will now take on 146th ranked Marcelo Arevalo from El Salvador. Prajnesh lost their only match in three sets last year at the Quito Challenger on clay in Ecuador.
[Q1] Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND, 121) l Jay Clarke (GBR, 225) 3-6 7-5 6-1
RAMKUMAR COULD NOT AVENGE HIS LOSS FROM BENGALURU
Ram lost to Jay in their previous match at the Bangalore Challenger in November. Both the players were coming off from a moderate season on clay so far. Ram having adopted a serve n volley approach over the last year, this match on European clay was going to be a tricky match.
As anticipated, Ram’s high risk serve and volley approach made it difficult for him on games where his first serve percentage was low. Ram fought hard and slogged it out from the back of the court in the second set to win 7-5.
In the 3rd set, Jay Clarke served big, played really well on crucial points and did not leave much scope for Ram to break him. It was a subdued end after a spirited performance from Ram in the second set.
This match was a special occasion for Ramkumar Ramanathan as his mother, father and sister were in attendance cheering him in what is their first grand slam experience.