Mukund Sasikumar dished out a gritty performance before going down against the Japanese Taro Daniel. The 23-year-old Indian youngster, who was handed a wild-card entry during his third appearance at the Tata Open Maharashtra, made strong comeback into the second set before losing the first 6-2. However, despite putting a solid performance in the second set that saw Daniel struggling, Mukund went onto lose 6-2, 7-6 (9-7) it in the thrilling tie-breaker.

Post match interview

About the match

The attitude was great. I gave it my best effort, considering that its my first time here and all those nerves, I think I did a good job.

Nerves during the start

I had a good start for the first few games. I thought that I was in the match but then small mistakes here and there came up. It could have gone either way.

Positives from the match

Even after not playing at my best, I almost had him if we look at it that way. There are parts of the match that I played good. So trying to be more consistent probably and continue the same for the whole match

The smash miss

Working a lot especially after I missed the one against Duckworth in Pune last year but obviously nothing changes by one smash and that’s not why I lost the match. What I did in an hour and thirty minutes, other than the smash is what mattered. We need to look at why it even went on the tie break. I should have closed the set at 6-3. The whole match was up and down and most of it was not good.

Break points during the set

I got broken too early in the set so I can’t really talk about that but at 5-4, 30-30 I really had a chance, the one breakpoint doesn’t decide the match it’s the whole match that matters. If I did everything right throughout the match then we can specifically talk about particular smash or volley. I want to look at playing consistent throughout the match then we can go to specifics.

Game plan coming into the match.

Tough to explain post the match. I didn’t have a game plan for the opponent, didn’t really think what he was going to do but few technical mistakes and playing the wrong shots cost me the match.

About the Pre-season

Pre-season was mostly fitness and look at serve. Eating as healthy as possible as fitness was the main issue last season. I was in Vienna during the whole pre-season. I don’t remember myself sustaining point after point like this, I can’t call myself to be super fit and not sure I can ever be one. But to my best ability, I would like to be as fit as possible and not compared to anyone else.

Approach change from the first to the second set

I was just trying to play more aggressively because in the first set I was trying to play rallies which was a bad plan. So in the second set I tried to do something with the ball because he super fit and rallying him out for points is difficult.

Lost Opportunity

I feel sad about losing early as it was a chance for each one of us (Indian players) to go deep into the tournament considering the weak field, it’s very heartbreaking. Hopefully Prajnesh Gunneswaran goes the distance but If I talk about Sumit Nagal or Ramkumar Ramanathan, then I feel sad for them, as they have been beating similar ranked players last season. We belong to this level. Close matches could have gone either way. We all will be back stronger.

Schedule ahead

It’s a tough situation for everyone due to the corona virus outbreak. No set plan right now. We will wait and see. Chinese tournaments got canceled last Tuesday

Best point of the match

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