India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan advanced to the men’s singles second round of the French Open qualifiers but Prajnesh Gunneswaran was knocked out following his first-round defeat in Paris on Tuesday.
Later in the night, India men’s singles No 1 Sumit Nagal also made it through to the second round of qualifying with an impressive 6-3, 6-3 win against Italian Roberto Marcora. The world No 143-ranked Indian needed just over 90 minutes to seal his straight sets win against his opponent ranked 192.
Ramkumar, ranked 215 currently, erased a one-set deficit to beat American Michael Mmoh 2-6 7-6(4) 6-3 in his opening round that lasted one hour and 54 minutes. The world No 169 raced away with the first set by breaking the Indian’s serve twice. The second set was a hard-fought battle with neither player even facing a single break point, but the Indian raced ahead in tie-break and closed it out.
Riding on that momentum, Ramkumar won the first two games of the third and deciding set. He held serve from there to close the match out. Ramkumar’s net-play made a significant difference in the end as he won 70% of his points, coming forward nearly twice as much as his opponent (40/57 compared to 23/33).
He will next take on Uzbekistan’s veteran Denis Istomin, who also recorded a three-set win against Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur. Ramkumar is yet to enter the main draw of a Grand Slam after a number of attempts, and will be hoping to make his debut in the Paris clay.
However, left-handed Prajnesh, seeded 32nd, suffered a rather straightforward 2-6, 2-6 loss to Germany’s Oscar Otte. There is just a single place separating the two in world rankings (152 and 151). The Indian made more than twice the number of unforced errors as his opponent (32 to 15) and had his serve broken five times in a match that lasted 74 minutes.
Prajnesh has not competed in the main draw of a Grand Slam since losing his first round of the 2020 Australian Open. In 2019, he had featured in all four Majors.
India’s top male singles player Sumit Nagal, seeded 27th in the qualifiers, started off well. Nagal is yet to earn a main draw berth in the Clay court Grand Slam.
The Jhajjar-born Indian, who competed at the Australian Open this year, has come into the tournament after playing two Challenger-level events, where he made the quarterfinals.
On Monday, Ankita Raina also registered a come-from-behind win in her first round match. She will face Belgium’s Greet Minnen in the next round on Wednesday.
(With PTI inputs)