Sumit Nagal’s late flourish gave something to cheer to the fans on an otherwise forgettable day for the Indian contingent at the Chennai Open Challenger on Tuesday.
Nagal, continuing his purple patch, won 6-4, 6-4 against Great Britain’s Ryan Peniston, the fourth seed, and advanced to the second round.
Nagal got an early break in the first set but allowed Peniston to pull square in the fifth game. Two forehand winners and a lucky net point in the very next game put Nagal a break ahead again.
For the second time, the Indian handed the advantage back and was broken by Peniston, as a crosscourt back hand post a long rally that had ensued on a break point settled the game.
It took three unforced errors from Peniston, who was serving to save the set and trailing 4-5, for Nagal to bag the first set.
Fighting an early deficit in the second iteration, Nagal broke and drew level in the fourth game, with an on-the-run forehand winner down the line being the highlight.
Two put-aways at the net helped Nagal inch 3-2 ahead. The set was advancing on serve until two break points for the Indian in the eighth game seemed to nudge him within touching distance of a win.
However, he squandered them and another one after deuce as Peniston stayed in the hunt at four games apiece.
Nagal found the breakthrough in the tenth game with two forehands on the rise to beat his opponent at the baseline. Unrelenting defence by the Indian on the deciding point forced Peniston’s shot wide to seal the set 6-4.
Earlier in the day, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Mukund Sasikumar and Ramkumar Ramanathan lost their opening round matches.
Prajnesh, with powerful serving and aggressive approach at the net, won the first set 6-4 against Jay Clarke.
The Brit, however, levelled the score by clinching the second set with a 6-3 scoreline. The decider stretched to a tie-break where a fall at 4-4 proved costly for Prajnesh, who was already fighting a discomforted ankle. The Indian couldn’t win a single point after that, losing the set 7-6(4) and match.
Ramanathan, after conceding the first set 3-6 to Bulgaria’s Dimitar Kuzmanov, forced the second into a tie-break. However, a double fault with the breaker still at serve proved costly. Kuzmanov prevailed 7-6(3) and won the contest.
Sasikumar crashed out with a 2-6, 2-6 defeat to Australia’s Max Purcell.
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