Chennai Open ATP Challenger: Indians impress; Prajnesh, Sasi Kumar into semis

India's top-ranked tennis star Prajnesh Gunneswaran cruised into the semifinal of the Chennai Open ATP Challenger 2019 with a straight sets win and Sasi Kumar Mukund followed suit.

Sasi Kumar Mukund continued his impressive run in the Chennai Open Challenger 2019 by claiming a hard-fought three set win over Brydan Klein in the quarterfinal on Friday.   -  R. Ragu

Sasi Kumar Mukund earned his spot in the semifinal of the Chennai Open Challenger 2019 after a gruelling three set encounter against against Brydan Klein here on Friday. The win was Mukund's best result in a Challenger.

Top seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran will play in the other semifinal after he cruised to an easy straight sets victory over James Duckworth.

With two big servers facing off, the match was almost destined to go the distance, but Mukund broke in the third game of the first set to go 2-1 up. The 21-year-old's returns were flat and hard and forced his opponent into making the unforced errors. The Indian broke once again the fifth game when he sent Klein went the other way with a beautifully placed a crosscourt forehand to take a 4-1 lead.

Third round report: Prajnesh sizzles, Saketh stumbles

Mukund survived a minor scare in the next game. He began faltering on his serves and squandered easy points at the net before saving three break points with an ace and held serve. He closed out the set 6-2.

Klein produced an incredible fightback to take the second set 6-3. The 29-year-old Brit, who was ill and almost threw in the towel in his previous round, was feeling the fatigue in his legs. That and his frustration with line calls and the court as well - once even screaming "the centre court is so slow!" - could have put off Mukund, who despite going 2-0 up after taking the early break, started to lose his way.

Mukund struggled with his first serves and Klein capitalised with a string of strong returns and some clever defensive play. He broke once again in the eighth game and clinched the next one to force the game to a decider.

With the mid noon sun ruthlessly beating down and temperatures reaching 34 degrees Celsius, the deciding set demanded every bit of energy left in both players. Both Mukund and Klein were unbeatable on serve - they finished the match with 17 and 16 aces respectively. After a few nervy moments that threatened a break, the match would be decided in a tiebreaker.

RELATED| Partnership forged on Facebook, crown sealed at Wimbledon: Ly-Sumit's Grand Slam story

Mukund picked up the first point of the tiebreaker with a brilliant backhand pass. More winners followed as Mukund led 5-2 and an exhausted Klein went down on his knees. An ace brought up match point and as a forehand from Klein went wide, Mukund wrapped up a fulfilling 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3) victory.

Prajnesh cruises

The Indian came into the match fresh off a straight sets win over Arjun Kadhe, while Duckworth grinded out an energy-sapping 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 win over Portugal's Gastao Elias.

Prajnesh and Duckworth were neck-and-neck for most parts of the first set. In the eighth game, Duckworth grossly mishit a simple overhead volley on break point, which turned out to be a crucial error. Prajnesh pulled it back to deuce and held serve to level the set 4-4. He broke serve the next game and went on a six-game rampage, taking the first set 6-4 along the way.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran will next face Australia's Andrew Harris in the semifinal.   -  K. V. Srinivasan

 

Prajnesh was masterful on inside out forehands, setting up the opponent to hit winners straight down the line. Duckworth seemed to be playing for a lost cause 0-4 down in the second set. With a sweetly placed crosscourt forehand, Prajnesh booked his spot in the last-four stage.

Other results

Second seed Corentin Moutet came back from a set down to defeat highly rated Spanish youngster Nicola Kuhn 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.

Fifth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who looked spent after two sets under the sun, went down in three sets 6-1, 6-7(6), 2-6 to Andrew Harris.

RELATED| Alejandro Fokina: Boxing's loss is tennis' gain

Luke Saville and Matt Reid set up a men's doubles clash against Italian pair Gianluca Mager and Andrea Pellegrino.

Results

Singles: Sasi Kumar Mukund bt Brydan Klein 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(3); Prajnesh Gunneswaran bt James Duckworth 6-4, 6-3; Corentin Moutet bt Nicola Kuhn 5-7, 6-3, 6-4; Andrew Harris bt Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-2.

Doubles: Luke Saville and Matt Reid bt Andre Grandson and Harri Heeliovara 6-4, 6-3; Gianluca Mager and Andrea Pellegrino bt Tomislav Draganja and Tsung-Hua Yang 6-0, 6-4.