ATP Bengaluru Challenger – All singles players crash out ; doubles hopes still alive

Leander Paes added some colour to an otherwise day of gloom for the Indians at the Bengaluru Open 2020. Leander Paes, along with his partner, Matt Ebden recovered from a second set bagel, to defeat the third seeded pair of Rungkat and Goransson 7-6 0-6 (10-8), to progress to the semi-finals, in what is slated to be Paes’s last tournament in India.

In the singles events, all the 6 Indians, who had progressed to the third round, lost their matches, which means the tournament will see no Indian presence in the tournament anymore. The day began with Sidharth Rawat and Saketh Myneni kickstarting the Indian action for the day in parallel courts, against Julian Ocleppo and Thomas Fabbiano, respectively. Both began the match in promising fashion, and both the matches were tied at 4-4. Saketh however was broken at 4-4, courtesy a couple of double faults, and lost the first set 6-4, after Fabbiano held his serve easily. Sidharth on the other hand got broken at 5-5 to lose the first set 5-7.

Saketh didn’t look at his best, and seemed to be carrying a niggle. Fabianno had several opportunities in the second set to take advantage of this fact, but missed out on several break -point opportunities as Saketh managed to hold on. Finally at 6-5, Saketh managed to break Fabianno to win the second set 7-5. The fact that Saketh was not at his best and was probably carrying a niggle was evident in the third set as he resorted to serve and volleying to shorten the points. However, this trick didn’t work as he was broken twice in that set. The net cord too seemed to be favouring Fabianno as twice during the course of the third set, Fabianno got lucky with the net cord falling on Saketh’s side and disrupting his rhythm. In fact at one point, Sakth did a mock celebration when a net cord point finally worked in his favour. But by this point the match was all lost. Saketh even called for a medical time-out at 2-5 in the third set, but was unable to prevent Fabianno’s victory.

Ramkumar Ramanathan during his match (Credits – Deepthi Indukuri)

In the other match, Sidharth was broken early in the second set by Ocleppo, but Sidharth didn’t give up, fighting for every point. He managed to break back Ocleppo and give hopes of a comeback. But alas that was not to be as he was broken at 4-5, while serving to stay in the match.

Ramkumar Ramanathan was up next, as he faced Ilya Ivashka, who had defeated Sasi Kumar Mukund in the previous round. Ramkumar didn’t start too well as he was broken early in the first set, but immediately broke back to bring the match to parity. Both the players then held on to their serve to force the match to a tie break. Till this point, Ramkumar did a good job mixing up between serve and volley, and baseline play. From the tie-breaker however, it was one way play. Ivashka took an early lead in the tie-breaker and Ramkumar was unable to find his way back into the game after losing the same 7-2. In the second set it was one way traffic as Ramkumar’s reliance on serving and volleying increased. Ivashka passed him with ease on most occasions and raced to a 4-0 lead. Ramkumar finally held his serve, but was unable to erase the deficit, as he succumbed to a 7-6(2) 6-1 loss.

Milos Galecic(Sumit’s fitness trainer) and Somdev watch on, as Sumit plays Rola (Credits – Deepthi Indukuri)

Sumit Nagal was up next, against Slovenian Blaz Rola. Sumit’s match too didn’t have the best of starts as he made several unforced errors, something which is very uncharacteristic of Sumit. Rola raced to a 4-0 lead, before Sumit finally won a game. Rola was serving for the set at 5-1, and Sumit finally broke Rola and held his own serve to make it 5-3. It appeared like Sumit would make a comeback as he raised his game. He did push Rola at 5-3, but couldn’t prevent Rola from holding his serve and winning the set. In the second set as well, Sumit struggled to find his footing against the left handed Rola. He was broken twice in the second set and failed to create any break-point opportunities against Rola and succumbed to a 3-6 3-6 loss.

Sumit during his match (Credits – Deepthi Indukuri)

The start to Prajnesh match too was similar to Ramkumar’s and Sumit’s match as he was broken early in his very first game. But Prajnesh broke back immediately. His opponent, Benjamin Bonzi, ranked 368 in the world had 2 break-point opportunities at 4-5, but Prajnesh held on and forced the first set to a tie breaker. Prajnesh raced to an early 4-1 lead in the tie breaker, but let slip the advantage slip, as he committed several unforced errors, losing the first set 6-7(5). In the second set, it was complete one way traffic, as Prajnesh continued to struggle with unforced errors. Prajnesh failed to win a single game in the second set as Bonzi managed to play the grinding game and force Prajnesh to make errors.

Prajnesh during his match (Credits – Deepthi Indukuri)

The bright spot of the day in singles was Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha. Though he lost 5-7 3-6 to Yuichi Sugita, ranked nearly a 1000 places above him, Poonacha displayed tremendous promise with some fine serving and groundstrokes. In fact in the first set he was up 5-4 and was serving for the set. However it was Sugita’s experience that took him through in the end. Poonacha however must take heart from his performance in the tournament where he played much better than his ranking suggested.

In doubles though, the story was completely different for the Indian pairs. Saketh, along with his partner Matt Reid defeated the first seeds Hsieh and Molchanov, 3-6 6-4 10-8 to book their spots in the semis. Purav Raja and Ramkumar too won their doubles match against Ferriera Silva and Milojevic 6-4 6-4, to make sure 3 out of the 4 pairs in the semis have Indian representation.

Matt Reid and Saketh Myneni upset top seeds 10-8 in the super tiebreak (Credits – Deepthi Indukuri)

Summary –

[R3] Saketh Myneni (IND,406) l. (9) Thomas Fabbiano (ITA,133) 46 75 26
[R3] (WC) Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha (IND,1105) l. (3) Yuichi Sugita (JPN,82) 57 36
[R3] Sidharth Rawat (IND,479) l. Julien Ocleppo (ITA,391) 57 46
[R3] Sumit Nagal(IND,126) l. Blaz Rola(SLO,149) 3-6 3-6
[R3] Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND,188) l. Ilya Ivashka(BLR,148) 6-7(2) 1-6
[R3] Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND,123) l. Benjamin Bonzi(FRA,368) 6-7(5) 0-6

[QF] Saketh Myneni (IND)/ Matt Reid (AUS) bt (1) Cheng-Peng Hsieh (TPE)/ Denys Molchanov (UKR) 36 64 10-8
[QF] (4) Purav Raja (IND)/ Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND) bt Frederico Ferreira Silva (POR)/ Nikola Milojevic (SRB) 64 64
[QF] Matthew Ebden (AUS)/ Leander Paes (IND) bt (3) Andre Goransson (SWE)/ Christopher Rungkat (INA) 75 06 10-7

[SF] (4) Purav Raja (IND)/ Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND) vs Saketh Myneni (IND)/ Matt Reid (AUS)
[SF] Matthew Ebden (AUS)/ Leander Paes (IND) vs (2) Jonathan Erlich (ISR)/ Andrei Vasilevski (BLR)

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