Myneni to meet Gunneswaran in Bengaluru Open final

Saketh Myneni beat Kazakhastan's Aleksandr Nedovyesov in a thrilling three-setter to set up a summit clash with his compatriot.

Saketh Myneni sets up to return an Aleksandr Nedovyesov shot during their semifinal clash at the Bengaluru Open.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

An all-Indian singles final awaits home fans at the Bengaluru Open US$150,000 Challenger tennis tournament, as Saketh Myneni and Prajnesh Gunneswaran progressed to the summit clash in contrasting fashions here on Friday.

While Myneni huffed and puffed his way to a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Aleksandr Nedovyesov, an in-form Prajnesh whipped Brayden Schnur 6-4, 6-1 in the second semifinal.

Prajnesh is now set to become the highest-ranked Indian male singles player, going past Yuki Bhambri. going past Yuki Bhambri. "It's been a long time coming. But I can't think about it right now, I have to focus on the match tomorrow," Prajnesh said, on becoming
India's best player.

The prospect of Prajnesh taking on friend and compatriot Myneni must excite both players. This is first time two Indians have reached the final since Bhambri outclassed Ramkumar Ramanathan in the US$50,000 KPIT MSLTA ATP Challenger held at Pune last year.

"This shows that Indian players have a lot of potential. Saketh has a good serve, and plays an unconventional game. I'll try to put him under as much pressure as possible tomorrow," Prajnesh said.

In the first last-four clash, Myneni nearly tripped over the final hurdle, but managed to sneak through. Myneni raced to a 5-0 lead in the third set, before a string of unforced errors and double faults saw him drop four straight games.

Read: Ankita and Karman into doubles semis

Nedovyesov was right back in the mix, while Myneni looked on shaky ground. But the Kazakh couldn't capitalise and lost his serve at 4-5 to hand Myneni the match. After converting his match point, a relieved Myneni blew a kiss to the crowd. "My focus went away a little bit in
the third set, but thankfully I got through," said Myneni, whose last Challenger title came in the 2015 Vietnam Open.

Prajnesh, meanwhile, had little trouble going past Schnur. The elegant southpaw banked on terrific return of serves, which kept Schnur on the back-foot throughout the encounter. He didn’t face a single break point either, and finished the match in just 58 minutes.

The third Indian in the fray, Purav Raja, did not have a great day at the office. Featuring in the doubles final, Raja and Croatian Antonio Sancic lost to the Australian pair of Max Purcell and Luke Saville 6-7 (3-7), 3-6. While the first set was close, Raja and Sancic came undone in the second. The pair had trouble with some of the line calls, constantly arguing with the chair umpire, which certainly did not help their game.

The results

Singles semifinals: Saketh Myneni bt Aleksandr Nedovyesov 4-6, 6-4, 6-4; Prajnesh Gunneswaran bt Brayden Schnur (Can) 6-4, 6-1.

Doubles Final: Purcell Max (Aus) & Saville Luke (Aus) bt Purav Raja & Antonio Sancic (Cro) 7-6 (3), 6-3.

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