Top seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran suffered a tough loss in the third round of the KPIT-MSLTA Challenger in Pune on Thursday, losing to the Netherlands’ Tim van Rijthoven in three sets. Meanwhile, three other Indians made it to the quarter-finals, with two of them set to clash against each other.
14th seed Rijthoven caused the biggest upset when he beat India’s No.1 — and last year’s runner-up — Prajnesh 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in a two-hour-10-minute three-set duel. Although not yet back to 100 per cent because of a wrist injury, Prajnesh’s failure to convert six break points in the decider — and 11 throughout the match — proved too costly in the end.
India No.2 and No.3 — Sumit Nagal and Ramkumar Ramanathan — won their respective matches to set up an intriguing quarter-final clash. While Nagal got through to the last eight as his opponent, Ivan Nedelko, retired from the match due to lower back pain, Ramkumar breezed past 12th seed Cem Ilkel of Turkey 6-3, 6-4 in little more than an hour. Indian fans will turn a keen eye on their upcoming match-up which, at the very least ensures that there will be one home player standing in the semi-finals.
Earlier in the day, eighth-seeded Sasikumar Mukund beat Turkey’s Ergi Kirkin 6-0, 6-2 in just 65 minutes to make it into the last eight. He will now take on second-seeded James Duckworth of Australia, who dispatched 20-year-old Manish Sureshkumar 6-1, 6-2, for a place in the semi-finals. Fourth seed Steven Diez, fifth seed Jay Clarke and seventh seed Roberto Ortega-Olmedo were the other players to make it to the last eight.
India was also guaranteed semi-final representation in the doubles category as well after third seeds Arjun Kadhe and Saketh Myneni beat the Russian pair of Bogdan Bobrov and Ivan Nedelko in a thrilling match 6-4, 4-6, 16-14. They will face second seeds Toshide Matsui of Japan and India’s Vishnu Vardhan next. Kobe Challenger title winners Ramkumar Ramanathan and Purav Raja began their campaign with an easy win over wildcards Parikshit Somani and Anvit Bendre 6-2, 6-4.
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