Chennai Open: Sasi Kumar punishes Fanselow's errors to make third round

Sasi Kumar Mukund blitzed past Germany's Sebastian Fanselow to advance to the third round of the Chennai Open Challenger.

Sasi Kumar capitalised on the errors of a frustrated Fanselow.   -  R. Ragu

Sasi Kumar Mukund blitzed past Germany's Sebastian Fanselow to advance to the third round of the Chennai Open Challenger here on Tuesday.

Mukund, who was a reserve at India's Davis Cup Qualifier against Italy, calmly capitalised on glaring errors from his frustrated opponent to beat him 6-3, 6-1.

Things started falling apart very early for Fanselow. As Fanselow kept placing simple shots wide, Mukund sensed an opportunity in the second game of the match. Fanselow eventually took the game but only after playing out five deuces.

In the sixth game, Fanselow's serves began to let him down. His double faults coupled with Mukund's clean returns meant the German found it hard to keep up. As he placed two simple forehands long, Mukund broke him to go 4-2 up in the first set.

The 21-year-old Chennai boy was serving for the first set when he conceded a break point as he top-edged two shots and put a backhand wide. But with a piercing serve — more of which would help him later - he saved break point to take the first set.

The story was similar for Fanselow in the second set. Three double faults in the first game meant Mukund took an early break and led 1-0. The German continued to hit more balls out of the court, even smacking one into the stands in frustration. From there on, Mukund switched into top gear with unbeatable serves and some good play close to the net to take the match 6-3, 6-1.

Mukund, who had a breakout 2018 — doing well in Challengers to finish the year with a career best ATP ranking of 295 — didn't expect such an easy result.

“I expected a tougher match. He's reached two or three quarterfinals before coming here but Chennai is a place where anything can go wrong because of the weather.

“I wasn't expecting much grass because I arrived from grass and I arrived late. I just wanted to see how it goes,” he said.

Other Indian results

Arjun Khade and Saketh Myneni, who reached the semifinals of the Bengaluru Open Challenger, fell 7-6 (4), 6-3 to the Italian pair of Andrea Pellegrino and Gianluca Mager in the first round of the men's doubles.

Vijay Sundar Prashanth and New Zealander Rubin Statham beat Bryadan Klein and Toshihide Matsui 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the men's doubles second round. They were followed by Submit Nagal and his Vietnamese partner Nam Hoang Ly, who beat Russians Ivan Nedelko and Alexander Zhurbin 6-1, 6-2.

Manish Sureshkumar overcame his singles defeat to Bryadan Klein earlier in the day as he partnered with Siddharth Rawat to defeat compatriots Anirudh Chandrasekar and Abhinav Shanmugam in a men's doubles first round match. Rawat and Sureshkumar lost the first set 6-7 after going down 7-5 in the tiebreaker, but came back to win 6-7 (5), 6-2, 10-5.

Indians in action on Wednesday

Top seed and India’s number one men’s singles player Prajnesh Gunneswaran will headline Wednesday’s action at the Chennai Open Challenger. Prajnesh gets his tournament running with a second round match against Germany’s Daniel Altmaier on Centre Court.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran is top seeded at the Chennai Open Challenger.   -  Debasish Bhaduri

 

Prajnesh comes into the tournament on the back of two straight set defeats in India’s Davis Cup tie against Italy on grass. But that won’t offset his achievement of qualifying for the Australian Open main draw for the first time last month. And on the hard courts here, he’s a big favourite as he looks break into the top 100 in ATP rankings, which he will do with a deep run in the tournament.

“It’ll be nice to be in the top 100 and to get that playing at home will be nice. But I’m going to be focused on getting used to conditions again after playing on grass for 10-12 days. I’ll try and do things right and play my matches with as good intensity as possible and look to get past the first couple of matches,” said Prajnesh.

Before Prajnesh, Kadhe will play his second round match on centre court against Jose Hernandez-Fernandez, the only player from the tiny Caribbean island of Dominican Republic. Kadhe beat Ivan Nedelko in straight sets in the first round.  

His match will be followed by an all-Indian affair when 11th seed Myneni faces Vijay Sundar Prashanth in a second round match. Myneni, who due to a foot injury pulled out of the Maharashtra Open earlier this year after qualifying for the main draw, will be making a comeback at the Challenger.

His opponent Prashanth on Monday won his first main draw singles match in a Challenger in over 12 months, which helped him get an ATP singles ranking after being unranked since the new rules came into effect this season. Prashanth defeated Carlos Boluda-Purkiss 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 in the first round.

“I’ve been training here for the past five weeks and I was confident of winning today. I've seen him (Purkiss) play before and I knew his game a little bit and knew what to do,” said Prashanth on Monday.