“I may not have come back from 2-6 down a year back” – Mukund, after producing a comeback win to make R2 at ATP Bengaluru Challenger

  • Four Indians through to R2 on Monday
  • Sumit Nagal to play his first match on Tuesday
  • Leander Paes arrives in Bengaluru to play his last pro event in India

India’s Mukund Sasikumar got the Indian challenge off to a great start, defeating former top 70 player Blaz Kavcic 2-6 6-3 6-4 at the Bengaluru Open 2020. The see-saw battle saw Mukund losing the first set without showing much of a fight. It seemed like the former top-70 player would win the match without much trouble. But Mukund had different ideas. There was visible improvement in his groundstrokes and his movements in the second set, and after an exchange of several breaks, Mukund won the second set 6-3 to take the match to the decider.

Mukund carried the momentum forward from the second set, and broke Kavcic early to take an early 3-1 lead in the third set. It should have been a routine win for Mukund from there, but there were more twists to come. Serving at 3-2, 40-15, Mukund committed a string of unforced errors and lost serve to bring the match to parity. There seemed to be a shift in momentum once again. However, Mukund showed great composure and broke Kavcic once again and had the opportunity to serve out the match at 5-4. He did so after a few nervy moments.

Remarkably, this was Mukund’s second win against Kavcic, with his first win also coming in the same tournament in 2018. When asked to compare the two wins, Mukund was philosophical “I’m just a different personality. Anything that happened in that phase of my life is different.” He continued “I have a good memory. So I remember every single point I played last time, but it has nothing to do with what I am now. It’s just so different. I am fitter, I am using different strings, a different racket, different off court experience in the past one and half years. Even the way I am thinking, the way I see life, on and off the court, is so different that I cannot take reference to something that happened one and a half years ago”.

Mukund also noted that the bouncebackability he displayed today was a  newly found trait “The last one year has been a big learning experience. One year back if this first set had happened, I probably wouldn’t have come out of it. But today I could be a set down and then come back, so I’m definitely on the right path”. Mukund now faces a tough challenge against Belarus’ Ilya Ivashka.Ivashka had qualified in to the main draw of the Australian Open where he pushed Kevin Anderson to 5 sets. 

Saketh Myneni (Photo – Deepthi Indukuri)

Saketh Myneni, on the other hand, had a much easier time on court, defeating Aslan Karatsev of Russia, 6-3 6-3. Saketh faced a few break points in his first two service games, and for a moment it seemed like Karatsev, who is ranked over 150 places above Saketh, had the upper hand in the affair. After all, this was Saketh’s first match of the season.

However, Saketh managed to up his game, and offered very few opportunities off his own serve to Karatsev. At the same time, Karatsev made a string of unforced errors to get broken at 2-3. This turned out to be the only break of the first set, with Saketh taking the first set 6-3.

The second set followed a similar script, with Saketh looking the better player. Karatsev got broken at 3-3, and failed to win even a single game after that. It was the kind of season opener Saketh would have hoped for. Saketh was happy with the win and said “I am happy that I won a match after a couple of months now. I haven’t played lot of tennis, in terms of matches wise.” He continued “I played a decent match today, it was pretty tough conditions wise, when the ball flies around you have to know how to control it and all that. I am happy with the win today, hopefully I progress further”. Saketh now faces another Russian, Evgeny Donskoy, who is coming fresh off an Australian Open run where he qualified to the main draw. The match is scheduled on Tuesday.

In the other matches featuring Indians, Sidharth Rawat caused probably the biggest upset of the day defeating Croatia’s Borna Gojo, ranked over 200 places above him, 3-6 7-6(3) 7-6(3). Niki Kalyanda Poonacha got the better of his fellow wildcard entrant Adil Kalyanpur 6-4 6-7(5) 7-6(4) in a marathon match that lasted over 2.5 hours. Arjun Kadhe lost in a closely contested affair against the former 50 player, Malek Jaziri, 6-2 7-6(5). 

Sidharth Rawat(left) caused an upset on Day 1, while Manish Sureshkumar(right) plays his R1 tomorrow (Photo – Deepthi Indukuri)

Day 1 Summary –

[R1] Sasikumar Mukund (IND,263) bt Blaz Kavcic (SLO,281) 26 63 64
[R1] Sidharth Rawat (IND,479) bt Borna Gojo (CRO,273) 36 76(3) 76(3)
[R1] (WC) S D Prajwal Dev (IND,953) l Khumoyun Sultanov (UZB,325) 26 16
[R1] Saketh Myneni (IND,406) bt Aslan Karatsev (RUS,258) 63 63
[R1] (WC) Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha (IND,1105) bt (WC) Adil Kalyanpur (IND,1029) 64 67(5) 76(4)
[R1] (WC) Arjun Kadhe (IND,612) l Malek Jaziri (TUN,242) 26 67(5)
[R1] (WC) Suraj R Prabodh (IND,1858) l Vladyslav Orlov (UKR,413) 26 26

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