Title No. 3…India’s Saketh Myneni (right) and Sanam Singh with the trophy after winning the doubles final at the Pune Challenger.-Title No. 3…India’s Saketh Myneni (right) and Sanam Singh with the trophy after winning the doubles final at the Pune Challenger.

The victory in the Pune Challenger placed Yuichi Sugita (121) fourth among the Japanese on the ATP Tour, behind the seventh-ranked Koi Nishikori, Tatsuma Ito (98) and Go Soeda (114). By NANDAKUMAR MARAR.

It was branded as the ‘Challengers Today, Masters Tomorrow’ event with a view to attracting tennis fans, but Saketh Myneni was the only prominent Indian player to rise to the expectations at the KPIT-MSTLA ATP Challenger in Pune. He advanced to the singles semifinals and won the doubles title, in tandem with Sanam Singh.

Thirteen Indians figured in the singles main draw of the Challenger, including qualifier Vijay Sundar Prashanth and three wildcards. Saketh was overcome by fatigue during his semifinal defeat to Sugita in the singles. But he returned to the hardcourt of the Shiv Chhatrapati Tennis Complex to win the doubles in brilliant sunshine.

“Sanam and I have such understanding that we were having fun on court,” said Saketh, who logged 90 points. As a semifinalist in singles, he won 33 more points. “I’m looking forward to playing in the Champions Tennis League,” said Saketh, who has been named in the Pune franchise.

“Singles is always my priority. Training and playing with the big guns in the CTL will help sharpen my game,” he said. Saketh’s big serves and his partner Sanam Singh’s volleying were too strong for the Thailand pair of Sanchai Ratiwatana and Sonchat Ratiwatana, the number one seed. It was the third doubles title for the Indian duo.

When asked about other Indians being unable to capitalise on the Challenger weeks at home, Saketh disagreed. “Everyone is battling hard. It is just a matter of a few matches going your way,” he said.

Saketh attributed his confidence to his performance at the Chennai Open early this year. “From then on, I am going from strength to strength. I was looking for a breather after two Challenger weeks, but my plans have changed. My focus is to remain healthy and train, keep my form and aim for the top 100,” said the player, who is ranked No. 241 in singles.

Nandakumar Marar