It was mixed outing for India at the KPIT-MSLTA Challenger in Pune on Wednesday as as the top four players advanced to the pre-quarterfinals while eight others bowed out in the second round.
Top seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran, third seed Sumit Nagal, sixth seed Ramkumar Ramanathan and eighth seed Sasikumar Mukund started their campaigns – after a bye in the opening round – with straight set wins. However, tenth seed Saketh Myneni went down in a gruelling three-set battle while Sidharth Rawat was unable to close out the match after coming close to upsetting 15th seed Brydan Klien.
Manish Sureshkumar, 20, made it to the last sixteen on Tuesday, ensuring that there will be five Indian players in the third round.
In the match of the day, Nagal, who is the second highest ranked Indian at world No 127, was stretched in his opener by wildcard Aryan Goveas ranked 867. The 22-year-old used his experience at this level and prevailed 6-3, 7-6(5) in a high-energy contest.
The first set saw Nagal take a 4-0 lead against the wildcard before Goveas broke and back and started building momentum. The early break proved crucial as Nagal closed out the set.
In an intense second set, four breaks were exchanged before it fell to the tiebreak to decide the match. It was a display of big-hitting and aggressive strokeplay from both before Nagal battled back from 1-4 down only to be broken while serving for the match. In the tiebreak, Goveas inexperience showed as the higher-ranked Indian converted his third match point.
In the other all-Indian clash on centre court, India No 1 Prajnesh proved too strong for Chandril Sood, winning 6-1, 6-3 in 49 minutes. The 30year-old, who is battling wrist injury and lost his father last week, played commendable tennis even though it was evident he is not at 100 per cent. The left wrist injury meant he could not use his formidable forehand and played most of the match on his backhand.
Earlier in the day, Ramkumar got past Greece’s Markos Kalovelonis 6-3, 6-4 while eight seed Mukund beat Toshihide Matsui 6-2, 6-3 to breeze through their openers. If they win their next match, an exciting all-Indian clash between Nagal and Ramkumar is on the cards in the quarter-final.
But it was curtains for Myneni who was unable to hold to his lead in both the second and third set, going down to Ergi Kirkin 6-3, 5-7, 4-6. The world No 267 had the early break in the second and a crucial break in the third set at 3-2 in the decider, but the 20-year-old from Turkey held his nerve despite the vocal support for his opponent to reach the third round.
Rawat, on the other hand, faltered at the final hurdle after fighting back from a breadstick in the first set as 15th seed Brydan Klien win 6-1, 3-6, 6-4. The young Indian, who had notched a three-set win over Arjun Kadhe on Tuesday, got an early break in the third but lost serve in the last two games to bow out in singles.
Wild card Dhruv Sunish gave a good account of himself taking 13th Nedelko of Russia to the decider but the experienced 33-year-old Nedelko – ranked 617 places above the 19-year-old – won 6-3,5-7, 6-2. Seventh seeded Roberto Ortega-Olmedo outplayed Anirudh Chandrasekar 6-3, 6-2.
Turkey’s Cem Ilkel, seeded 12th, ended the lucky run of alternate Kaza Vinayak Sharma 6-2, 6-1 while 14th-seeded Dutchman Tim Van Rijthoven beat qualifier Dalwinder Singh 6-3, 6-1 in less than a hour.
Singles (Second round)
 Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND)bt Chandril Sood (IND) 6-1,6-3
 Sumit Nagal (IND) bt [WC] Aryan Goveas (IND) 6-3,7-6(5)
 Steven Diez (CAN) bt Yusuke Takahashi (JPN) 6-2,6-2
 Ramkumar . Ramanathan (IND) bt Markos Kalovelonis (GRE) 6-3,6-4
 Roberto Ortega-Olmedo (ESP) bt Anirudh Chandrasekar (IND) 6-3,6-2
 Sasikumar Mukund (IND) vs Toshide. Matsui (JPN) 6-2,6-3
 Duckhee Lee (KOR) bt Aziz. Dougaz (TUN) 6-3,6-4
Ergi. Kirkin (TUR) vs  Saketh. Myneni (IND) 3-6,7-5,6-4
 Cem Ilkel (TUR) bt [Alt] Vinayak. Kaza (IND) 6-2,6-1
 Ivan. Nedelko (RUS) vs [WC] Dhruv. Sunish (IND) 6-3,5-7,6-2
 Tim. Van Rijthoven (NED ) bt (Q] Dalwinder Singh (IND)
 Brydan. Klein (GBR) bt Siddarth Rawat (IND) 6-1,3-6,6-4
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