Bengaluru Open: Saketh Myneni sends holder Sumit Nagal packing

Saketh Myeni registers a 6-4, 6-4 win over Sumit Nagal to enter semis; easy passage for Prajnesh Gunneswaran as Sasi Kumar Mukund retires hurt after just three points.

Saketh Myneni upstaged defending champion Sumit Nagal in a quarterfinal match at the Bengaluru Open on Thursday.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

There were just glimpses of the explosive first-strike tennis that he is known for, but Saketh Myeni did enough to dispatch defending champion Sumit Nagal 6-4, 6-4 and enter the semifinals of the $150,000 Bengaluru Open. In Friday’s last-four clash, he will meet Kazakh Aleksandr Nedovyesov who beat Portugal’s Frederico Ferreira Silva 6-4, 6-2.

Much of the first set — played under cool breezy conditions — featured staccato tennis, with Saketh in particular seeking a point-ending shot almost always. Nagal, who appreciates a
well-constructed point, was forced to respond and felt hurried all through.

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The 31-year-old Saketh served remarkably well in the opening set, losing just three points from five games. Nagal was just slightly worse off, giving up eight. Unfortunately four of those came in his first service game, a break Saketh maintained till the end of the set.

Saketh’s is a streaky style, with which, standing more upright than most players, he can reel off winners in bunches. But it is also a style which can unravel quickly. After the first four games in the second set stayed on serve — shaky holds — a capricious phase of play followed with five consecutive breaks of serve.

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Nagal showed a bit more fight and retrieved well, forcing Saketh to snatch at his shots. But he did his cause no good by giving away free points. In each of the three breaks Saketh earned, the decisive point was a double fault by Nagal.

“The ball was not flying like it does when the sun is out,” Saketh said later. “The wind caused us to miss first serves a little bit, like when we were pushing to get the lead. It then put pressure on the second serve. But I was happy to serve it out at the end, especially after being a bit up and down.”

The day’s first all-Indian quarterfinal however proved a dud with Sasi Kumar Mukund retiring because of a back spasm after playing just three points against Prajnesh Gunneswaran.

“During my warm up it felt like my lower back was jammed,” Sasi Kumar said later. “It’s sad that it had to end like this. It had been a good week. I feel very bad.”  Prajnesh, at four, the only seeded player remaining in the draw, will next play Canada’s Brayden Schnur who
overcame Turkey’s Cem Ilkel 6-3, 6-4.

The results:

Singles (Quarterfinals): Saketh Myneni bt Sumit Nagal 6-4, 6-4; Prajnesh Gunneswaran bt Sasi Kumar Mukund 0-0 (retd.); Brayden Schnur (Can) bt Cem Ilkel (Tur) 6-3, 6-4; Aleksandr Nedovyesov (Kaz) bt Frederico Ferreira Silva (Por) 6-4, 6-2.

Doubles (Semifinals): Max Purcell & Luke Saville (Aus) bt Cheng-Peng Hsieh & Tsung-Hua Yang (Tpe) 6-3, 6-4; Purav Raja & Antonio Sancic (Cro) bt Arjun Kadhe & Saketh Myneni 3-6, 6-2, [10-8].

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