Prajnesh Gunneswaran beat an erratic Arjun Kadhe as 16th seed Sasi Kumar Mukund continued his fine run and pulled off an emphatic upset win against third seed Mohamed Safwat in the third round of the Chennai Open Challenger here on Thursday.
With the win, top seed Prajnesh moved into the top 100 of the ATP rankings for the first time, and his injury hit career continues its late upwards curve.
Prajnesh's serve led his arsenal on the day while Kadhe, who was expected to put up a strong fight, erred with his serves. Kadhe got only 60 percent of his first serves in while Prajnesh won 31 points on his first serve.
Kadhe got off to a good start and it was Prajnesh who made unforced errors during the early parts of the game, especially while at the net. But in the seventh game of the first set, as the winds started picking up, Kadhe mishit two points and Prajnesh broke to go 4-3 up.
That was the opening Prajnesh needed as he seized the advantage and quickly closed out the set 6-4.
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It got worse for Kadhe in the second set, and with Prajnesh much better on his returns than in his previous match, his mistakes were magnified. Two double faults from Kadhe awarded Prajnesh two break points in the third game. Although he managed to save them, he couldn't do much to reach an immaculately placed inside out forehand from Prajnesh on the next break point. Prajnesh led 2-1.
Kadhe looked frustrated as he continued to misplace simple shots and falter on serves as he gifted another break to Prajnesh, which put the top seed in a commanding position at 5-2. Prajnesh held serve the next game and took the match 6-4, 6-2 with ease.
- Masterful Mukund -
Mukund served nine aces in his big victory against Egypt's Safwat. The 21-year-old dominated the game as he consistently put in strong serves, forcing his experienced opponent into errors. Mukund broke in the first set to go 4-2 up as Safwat netted a simple shot.
2018 — a breakout year for Sasi Kumar Mukund
The Indian showed his ability to last long in rallies, especially in the ninth game of the first set. Safwat found that his opponent was swift along the baseline and got quickly to each of his shots and returned with plenty of power and topspin. On set point, such a forehand won him the set 6-3 as Safwat was left scrambling to get there.
Mukund broke in the very first game of the second set. Safwat was left stranded at the net as Mukund got to break point with a backhand pass. There was more clean and flat hitting from Mukund as he won the match 6-3, 6-4.
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Eleventh seed Saketh Myneni crashed out in the third round as he suffered a straight sets defeat to fifth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. After losing the first set 6-4, Myneni lost focus in the second set, where he contested multiple decisions taken by the chair umpire. Fokina, the 2017 Wimbledon boys' champion, saw the match through after winning the second set tiebreaker 7-3.