Mukund Sasikumar completed a come-from-behind 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory against first-seed Jason Jung to make place in the main draw of the Chennai Open 2023 on Monday.
Errors crept into Jung’s game in the deciding set as he struggled with heat, having already called for the physio in the second.
With the set progressing at serve till 4-3, Jung erred in two straightforward forehand shots to hand Sasikumar a double break point. A subsequent drop shot to save one of the two found the net to put the Indian ahead.
The Chinese Taipei player did not bow out without a fight and broke back in the next game to take the set to 5-4. However, three double faults while trying to save the match handed the main draw spot to Sasikumar.
From the outset, both players had relied on strong first serves to dig themselves out. In the first set, Sasikumar forced Jung right down to the wire, collecting multiple breakpoints in the second, fourth and sixth games. None were converted, though.
A passing forehand down the line from the top seed, and another two from either of the baseline turned the tide in Jung’s favour. He broke and pulled ahead 5-3 and eventually closed out the set 6-4.
He kept the momentum in the second set and broke Sasikumar’s opening service game. The lead remained intact until the eighth game when Jung’s decision to drop an underarm service backfired.
With the game tied at 40 all, Jung pulled out a disguised under arm serve only to find the net. He dared to repeat the same and this time send the ball beyond the T. The double fault parried the scores, four games apiece.
Sasikumar, with a spring in his step, powered down his first serves, kept the rallies shot and moved 5-4 ahead. It was at this point the physio was called on the court.
Completing the set was all but a formality. Post the medical break, wearing dropped shoulders, Jung trudged back to position to see the match levelled one set each.
Sasikumar was the second Indian to move to the main draw of the Challenger. Sumit Nagal breezed past South Korea’s Ji Sung Nam with a score of 6-1, 6-3. The last Indian in action on the day, Digvijaypratap Singh, saw his stay at the tournament end. Singh bowed out against Australia’s James McCabe 6-2, 7-5(2).
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