“I’m glad I ended up finding a solution to stay calm” – Mukund Sasikumar after winning against Qualifying Top Seed Jason Jung at the Chennai Open ATP Challenger 2023

Mukund Sasikumar scored a big upset win beating Jason Jung, the top seed in qualifying, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 24 minutes and will meet 2022 Wimbledon men’s doubles champion Max Purcell in the first round of the main draw at the Chennai Open ATP Challenger 2023. Here are a few excerpts from his post-match Press Conference.

Q: How does it feel to play a home Challenger in Chennai?

“I mean I get to stay with mom, my sister and my dad, of course. And that’s something which I don’t experience too much during the year, so that’s the first thing I look forward to. Especially my sister, it’s lovely being with her and spending time with her. The second thing is obviously my friends on tour that I can see everyone and the vibe that they give me throughout the day. So those two things, the tennis part, because end of the day it’s my job and it doesn’t matter where you are in the world the sport stays the same and the challenges that it has doesn’t change whether it is at home or away. But mainly outside the court is what makes the difference and maybe that has an indirect connection to you performing better.”

Q: Thoughts on the match today?

“I had a lot of luck on my side. I don’t know what exactly happened. I’ll ask him later. At the end of the match, he said he was feeling dizzy. First, I thought his leg was hurting or something like that. If that hadn’t happened, I don’t think he would have lost. But on the other hand, I think the first set also was very unlucky. That’s tennis, it could have gone either way. But if you just take the second set alone on paper, I think my chances to win were extremely low at 4-3, had he not felt like that. But yeah, I think I did a good job persisting. A bit more than I usually do and that paid off. Sometimes it doesn’t, but today was one of the days it did.

I think by far the toughest situation to deal with in the sport of tennis is to play your game when somebody doesn’t want to be there, you know, and they start just playing something. I mean, I have done it to guys, and I’ve lost matches when other guys have done it because there is no pressure and they know they aren’t going to win. So, they start freeing up and that’s when you start getting tight. I think I did a good job fighting those tough thoughts and I’m glad I ended up finding a solution to stay calm. It could have gone either way, I still think he could have won the third set because there was so much pressure on me to put balls in the court and for him there was nothing to lose. I could have done a few things better, but still, I’m happy with the result because this is one of the few times I’ve won in such situation.”

Q: You had a couple of break points and visible chances early in the match, but somehow it didn’t go your way. Can you talk about the first set?

“Nothing much I could have done on all those points. I think there were one or two wrong or unlucky calls. At least, that’s what my coach thought. So, that you can’t do anything. It’s part of tennis. The other points I don’t think I messed it up completely. I felt I was playing the right shots. Sometimes he played great, you know, he came up with some great points. That’s tennis, if that is not how it is, the sport would not be so challenging.”

Q: You will be playing the doubles as well this week. How does it feel to be playing matches every day? How physically difficult is it? Is that something you look forward to?

“I mean there are guys who do it. Of course, it’s going to be physically tough. On the other hand, you’re just managing half the court and when you have someone like Sumit Nagal, who is so fit, it gets easier. That’s also an advantage, playing with a friend. When you know someone well, some of the tiredness also leaves your body because you feel like you really want to be there. Not like a job that you must do. I would play with him even if there was no money offered because I just like the energy. We have known each other for the last 15 years, and we have come a long way both of us. So, doubles for me this week or whenever I play with an Indian is something that I like doing. It’s easy to play in such a situation.” 

Q: Can you talk about how playing such a long match in such hot and humid conditions feels and do you think that contributed to your opponent feeling unwell?

“No, I don’t think so. He has played at the Australian Open I don’t know how many times in his life. Like I said, he has been consistent. I don’t think the weather played any role on him. But that’s just the human body. Anything can happen at any time. If someone has a problem lasting in this weather, I think it’s me because he is way fitter.”

Photo by Srividya Balayogi

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