Quite a few things have changed since the last edition of the Bengaluru Open ATP Challenger tournament. First, the event itself appears anew this year with the prize money increased from USD 100K to USD 150K. Next, at least a few participants of 2017 have been through ups and downs and see themselves in different positions this year.

Take Sumit Nagal, for instance. Last year, he ended a sensational campaign as a wildcard by stunning Britain’s Jay Clarke in three sets in the final. This time, he has to beat the same opponent to get past the first round of the competition.

Sumit’s victory propelled him to 225th in the list of ATP rankings from No 321. He made steady progress, rose to No 213 in April this year. But a shoulder injury and loss of form hampered his ascent.

Sumit, this year, hasn’t gone past the round of 16 in any of the tournaments he played. He, hence, hopes to repeat what he did in the last edition of Bengaluru Open.

“Finally, I am spending a lot of time on the tennis court and also, I am back to what I was playing. Due to injuries, I was on and off the court every alternate week. When you are injured you are not getting too much to train as well,” Nagal said ahead of the tournament, beginning on Monday on the courts of Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association (KSLTA).

He heads into the tournament with three back-to-back first-round defeats. But the 21-year-old is optimistic.

“With tennis, you never know what is going to happen. You can beat anyone and lose to anyone. For me it is always round by round. Anything is possible in tennis,” he said.

Prajnesh looks to extend good season

With Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan absent, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, who’s in the midst of a fairly good season, will be the highest ranked Indian in the competition.

Prajnesh, 28, won two titles this year: a Futures event in Chandigarh and the An-Ning ATP Challenger event in China (his first ATP Challenger title).

Prajnesh, the highest seeded Indian (No 4), will be up against Russian Ivan Nedelko in the first round.

“It’s a pretty good draw but again Nedelko is not someone I look and say ‘easy player and I’m going to walk past him’. He is 250 so I have to respect that and play as well as possible,” said Prajnesh.

Saketh Myneni, due to his prolonged struggle with injuries, had to be given a wildcard to make the main draw. But he isn’t a pushover.

Saketh admits that he is still short of his best level but is confident of doing well in Bengaluru.

Myneni will be facing compatriot Adil Kalyanpur, 18, in the first round. But in the second, he might have to quell top seed Radu Albot, who won the Liuzhou Challenger last month.

“I am very glad to be playing a tournament back in India. There are very few tournaments here. And, it’s good for us, Indian players, to be playing in front of the home crowd,” he said about the event. “And, Bengaluru’s stepping up each year in terms for prize money. A few years ago, it was (USD) 50K. It was (USD) 100K last year. Now, it’s 150K.”

The Indians will face a tough competition from their foreign counterparts. Radu, Marco Trungelliti of Argentina, last year’s runner-up Jay Clarke will be tall obstacles.

In the doubles event, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan got the top billing along with his German partner Kevin Krawietz. The Indian duo of N Sriram Balaji and Vishnu Vardhan are in the same half as well.