Bengaluru Open: Top seed Vesely ousts Prajnesh

In a round-of-16 match played under the bright winter afternoon sun, both players struggled with their serves, before the Czech recalibrated his game midway through the match to emerge triumphant.

“Should have been a better effort after having come close to getting back in the [second] set,” said Prajnesh.   -  SUDHAKARA JAIN / THE HINDU.

Indian interest in singles ended at the Bengaluru Open ATP Challenger on Thursday as top seed Jiri Vesely shrugged off an erratic first-set display to oust Prajnesh Gunneswaran 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.

In a round-of-16 match played under the bright winter afternoon sun, both players struggled with their serves, before the Czech recalibrated his game midway through the match to emerge triumphant.

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The two traded breaks early in the opening set, but it was the Czech’s that serve proved dodgier. He lost serve a second time in the fourth game as Prajnesh went on to take the set 6-3. Vesely would end the set with a whopping nine double faults.

“It was very hard. I don’t play long rallies and that sort of suited him,” said Vesely. “There was no rhythm. At that point, I didn’t care about the result. I relaxed and just wanted to swing and play it simple.”

The change in approach brought Vesely back as he broke to 3-1 in the second set, courtesy two fine stretch volleys and a service winner. The serves started catching the lines, and he was also successful in shortening the points as the slew of drop shots would attest.

In the seventh game, Prajnesh earned a break-point but Vesely survived to hold to 5-2. Prajnesh’s shoulders dropped and he wouldn’t win a game until he was down 0-5 in the third. Vesely played a clinical third set, winning 16 of his 20 service points.

“I just wasn’t there mentally,” said Prajnesh. “Should have been a better effort after having come close to getting back in the [second] set.”

“My first serve was not there [throughout the match]. That’s why it took so long to close out the first set. And that played a role in the second. He started returning a bit better too. I was not getting any free points on my serve and in most of the points I was starting on defence, which wasn’t helpful.”

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In doubles, three of the four Indian pairs in action – Yuki Bhambri & Divij Sharan, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan & Purav Raja and Sriram Balaji & Vishnu Vardhan – lost. The Saketh Myneni-Ramkumar Ramanathan duo entered the semifinal after it received a walk-over from Steven Diez and Malek Jaziri.

The results (Indian unless specified):

Singles (round-of-16): Cem Ilkel (Tur) bt Evgeny Donskoy (Rus) 2-6, 6-3, 7-5; Alexandre Muller (Fra) bt Dimitar Kuzmanov (Bul) 7-6 (4), 6-4; Jiri Vesely (Cze) bt Prajnesh Gunneswaran 3-6, 6-2, 6-1; Enzo Couacaud (Fra) bt Max Purcell (Aus) 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

Doubles (quarterfinals): Alexander Erler (Aut) & Vit Kopriva (Cze) bt Yuki Bhambri & Divij Sharan 6-4, 6-3; Saketh Myneni & Ramkumar Ramanathan w/o Steven Diez (Can) & Malek Jaziri (Tun); Jay Clarke (GBR) & Marc Polmans (Aus) bt Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan & Purav Raja 6-2, 6-1; Hugo Grenier & Alexandre Muller (Fra) bt Sriram Balaji & Vishnu Vardhan 6-4, 7-6 (2), [10-4].

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