All four Indians in Wednesday’s singles event at Bengaluru Open – Sumit Nagal, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Saketh Myneni and Sasi Kumar Mukund – advanced to the quarter-finals with contrasting victories.
In the last eight, Myneni will face defending champion Nagal and Gunneswaran will be up against Mukund.
Prajnesh’s was the most thrilling of the four Indian wins on Wednesday at the KSLTA courts as he came from a set down to beat German qualifier Sebastian Fanselow 4-6, 6-4, 7-5. He began nervously and was 30-40 down in the first game before being saved by an unforced error. Prajnesh’s serve lacked the bite it had on Tuesday. He missed an opportunity to break in the ninth game and lost the 10th to go 4-5 down. Fanselow clinched the next game and the first set.
In the second set, Prajnesh served better, winning 12 of the 13 points where his first serves went in. When the two engaged in elongated baseline rallies, Prajnesh won most of them with his powerful forehands. He converted one of his three opportunities to break Fanselow’s serve and that was sufficient to clinch the set.
Set number three, with the floodlights on and frequent cheering from the sparse crowd, was the most exciting of the match, with five breaks of serve. Prajnesh was 2-4 down after making two consecutive unforced errors in the sixth game. But he amped up his serve to claw his way back, hitting four of his five third-set aces in his last two service games to clinch the decider 7-5.
Nagal wins in straight sets
Earlier in the day defending champion Nagal beat former British No 2 James Ward 6-3, 7-6(4). The victory, albeit in straight sets, didn’t come easy.
The first set, Nagal was solid on serve missing just one point from just one of his 16 first serves that went in. He lashed forehands from the centre of the baseline, making Ward scramble to put the ball back in play. In the sixth game, he converted his only break point and went on to win the set.
Ward defended better in the next set, which saw a lot more backhand rallies exchanged. Nagal’s forehands weren’t a huge trouble anymore. At 6-5 up, he had Nagal 0-30 down on his own serve – his last big opportunity to clinch the second set. But the defending champion hit two winners and was aided by two unforced errors to force the tie-breaker, which he won without much fuss.
Nagal will now take on Myneni, who downed Egyptian qualifier Youssef Hossam 6-1, 3-6, 6-1. Hossam, on Tuesday, had knocked out the top seed Radu Albot in three sets.
Prajnesh will next meet his younger compatriot, Sasi Kumar Mukund, who reached the quarter-finals after his opponent Blaz Kavcic retired hurt while trailing 6-7, 1-3.
Singles (second round): Sasi Kumar Mukund beat Blaz Kavcic (Slo) 7-6 (2), 3-1 (retd.); Saketh Myneni beat Youssef Hossam (Egy) 6-1, 3-6, 6-1; Sumit Nagal beat James Ward 6-3, 7-6 (4); Prajnesh Gunneswaran beat Sebastian Fanselow (Ger) 4-6, 6-4, 7-5; Brayden Schnur (Can) beat Quentin Halys (Fra) 6-4, 7-6 (3); Aleksandr Nedovyesov (Kaz) beat Marc Polmans (Aus) 6-2, 6-4; Cem Ilkel beat Zizou Bergs (Bel) 7-5, 6-3.