The fancied players did have a bumpy ride but managed to scrape through to the quarterfinals of the US $15000 SKME ITF Open being played at the KSLTA Stadium. In the pre-quarterfinal matches played here on Thursday, top seed Mukund Sasikumar dropped a set before overcoming challenger Abhinav Sanjeev Shanmugam 6-7 (8), 7-5, 6-3 while eighth seed Englishman Julian Cash survived a scare against the talented Indian Nitin Kumar Sinha with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. Seventh seed Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha also recorded a comeback victory against junior exempt entrant Nishant Dabas prevailing 0-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Three other seeded players – second seed Sidharth Rawat, fifth seed Arjun Kadhe and fourth seed Manish Sureshkumar advanced to the last eight stage with straight set victories. While Rawat quelled the challenge of qualifier Ishaque Eqbal 6-4, 7-5, Kadhe breezed past Dalwinder Singh 6-0, 6-3 and Sureshkumar topped qualifier Daisuke Sumizawa of Japan with a 6-3, 7-6 (3) victory.
Sasikumar had to really dig it out and put his experience to good use against his younger rival in a match that lasted 2 hours and 43 minutes. After the opponents held their respective serves for the first four games, they traded breaks in the next two games before settling the issue via a tie-breaker which Shanmugam won 10-8. The second set went with the serves until the 11th game where Shanmugam lost his serve and eventually the second set. Sasikumar after achieving an early break in the third game managed to hold sway for the rest of the set and broke Shanmugam’s serve in the ninth game to win the set and the match.
Meanwhile, 18-year-old Nishant, the youngest player played some flawless tennis against better ranked opponent Poonacha as he moved faster and served better while blanking his foe in the opening set with breaks in the 2nd, 4th and 6th game in the first set. Poonacha, having read the diminutive player’s game, countered him with some great passing shots and didn’t give his opponent much of a chance as he won five games on a trot beginning from the fourth to comeback in the match. The decider was a replica of the second set as Poonacha came up trumps to enter the quarterfinals.
Singles (Round of 16)
1-Sasikumar Mukund (IND) bt Abhinav Sanjeev Shanmugam (IND) 6-7 (8), 7-5, 6-3; 5-Arjun Kadhe (IND) bt Dalwinder Singh (IND) 6-0, 6-3; 8-Julian Cash (GBR) bt Nitin Kumar Sinha (IND) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2; Maks Kasnikowski (POL) bt Q-Paras Dahiya (IND) 6-4, 6-1; Q-Digvijay Pratap Singh (IND) bt Q-Adil Kalyanpur (IND) 6-3, 7-6 (2); 7-Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha (IND) bt Nishant Dabas (IND) 0-6, 6-2, 6-2; 2-Sidharth Rawat (IND) bt Q-Ishaque Eqbal (IND) 6-4, 7-5; 4-Manish Sureshkumar (IND) bt Q-Daisuke Sumizawa (JPN) 6-3, 7-6 (3).
4-Constantin Bittoun Kouzmine (FRA)/SD Prajwal Dev (IND) bt Arnav Pathange (IND) / Suraj R Prabodh (IND) 6-1, 6-2; 2-Sasikumar Mukund (IND)/Vishnu Vardhan (IND) bt Anirudh Chandrasekar (IND)/Vinayak Sharma Kaza (IND) 6-4, 3-6, 10-7; 3-Yuki Bhambri (IND)/Saketh Myneni (IND) bt Maks Kasnikowski (POL)/Yann Wojcik (POL) 6-3, 6-4; 1-Julian Cash (GBR)/Arjun Kadhe (IND) bt Parikshit Somani (IND)/Enzo Wallart (FRA) 6-1, 6-1