Pune Challenger: Mukund fashions turnaround to enter quarters

Sasi Kumar Mukund defeated sixth seed Jay Clarke while Prajnesh Gunneswaran brushed aside Lucas Grech in the Pune Challenger pre-quarters.

Published : Nov 21, 2018 19:43 IST , Pune

Sasi Kumar Mukund got the better of sixth seed Jay Clarke.
Sasi Kumar Mukund got the better of sixth seed Jay Clarke.

Sasi Kumar Mukund got the better of sixth seed Jay Clarke.

An excellent year on the tennis court embellished with a handful of title wins has made Prajnesh Gunneswaran take on opponents with a confident deportment. In a scrap between left handers, Gunneswaran brushed aside the modicum challenge posed by Germany’s Lucas Grech in under an hour in the pre-quarterfinals of the $50000 MSLTA-KPIT Challenger at the Balewadi Sports Complex here on Wednesday.

Gunneswaran won 6-1, 6-3 with the last point won being a foot fault by the German resulting in a double fault.

Local boy Arjun Kadhe competed hard in the first set against Canada’s Brayden Schnur, but once he lost the first set there was only diminishing returns for him in the second set. The match against a tough opponent demanded display of fitness, skill and execution of winners for two hours, but Kadhe could not take the contest to a level Schnur was able to exhibit and take control of the match.

The story of the third day of the Challenger here on Wednesday was a remarkable turnaround in form fashioned by Sasi Kumar Mukund against a higher ranked player from Great Britain and the No. 6 seed in Jay Clarke.

Ranked 181 in the world, the 20-year-old Clarke fired heavy-duty serves and hit the ball hard and deep and won the first set. Mukund enjoyed an early break though.

Undeterred by the first set reverse setback, Mukund made a do or die effort in all departments of the game in the second; most importantly he hit the ball hard, long  and on either flanks that won him the big points and the second set.

He showed an improvement in his service games in the third set and led 4-1 when Clarke walked up to the chair umpire to announce his retirement from the match. Trailing 1-2, he taken medical treatment from a physio and after the losing the fifth game, he quit.

When asked about his comeback in the match, Mukund said: "It shows how much I have to improve in order to close out matches. I am learning. For my level, I played a very good quality of tennis. I had to step it up in the second as he was getting solid from the back.’’




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