Sasi Kumar Mukund and Arjun Kadhe made the most of their wildcard entry in the $50,000 MSLTA-KPIT Challenger at the Balewadi Sports Complex on Tuesday.
First, Mukund found a way to overcome Saket Myneni in a pulsating first round match and then local favourite Arjun Kadhe eliminated the second seed Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-3,6-2.
Ramkumar was part of the 26 London Graduates occupied with the ATP University and he remained at the Bangalore Open. Without much practice, he looked out of touch and Kadhe took the opportunity to outplay the India No. 2. Kadhe looked strong in every department of the game and scored a memorable win.
In the case of Mukund, it was his power and ambition youth that revealed itself for nearly one and a half hours. 31-year-old Myneni had beaten Mukund, younger to him by ten years, in a Futures event in Kolkata in March and at an indoor surface in China in October. But on the second day of the Challenger, the seasoned campaigner went down 4-6, (1) 6-7 in a Centre Court action.
Nagging back and shoulder issues could have hurt Myneni, but the finalist at last week’s Bangalore Open, did not make palpable his suffering. Even when the chips were down, he made the ball obey his whim; be it gunning down an ace or caressing the ball out of reach of his opponent or hitting a variety of winners. But Mukund was up for the task and his win will raise hopes for the remaining part of the tournament.
When asked the difference between the previous matches and Tuesday’s, Mukund said: “I just kept doing my job and got better as a player. It was a close match. It could have gone either way."
"I played the important moments well. Today also he had some (health issues). Of late I have kept things simple generally, not trying to blast the ball. I keep the ball in play and wait for my chances. I have played simple tennis over the last few weeks and that’s why I have had some decent results.’’
Sumit Nagal, the last direct entrant into the main draw could not stop the top seed Moldovan Albot Radu from stamping his authority and later Gunneswaran won a grinding one and half hour skirmish against Taipei’s Tsung Hua Yang.
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