Sasikumar Mukund showed tremendous resolve to fight back from a difficult position and beat Blaz Kavcic in the opening match of the Bengaluru Tennis Open 2020. Saketh Myneni, Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha and Sidharth Rawat won their respective matches but the rest of the Indian contingent faltered on the opening day in Bengaluru.
Sasikumar Mukund comes from behind
Indian tennis ace Sasikumar Mukund fought back and got past Blaz Kavcic 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 to move into the second round of the Bengaluru Tennis Open.
Blaz Kavcic began well and won the opening set fairly comfortably. The Slovenian was a set as well as break up and looked like he was on his way to the second round but Sasikumar Mukund had other ideas. The Indian tennis player forced his way back into the match by breaking Blaz Kavcic’s serve more than once to eventually win the set 6-3.
Sasikumar Mukund then completed his comeback from a set down by breaking Blaz Kavcic in the third and doing just about enough to win the deciding set 6-4.
Even though he won the match, Sasikumar Mukund wasn’t best pleased with his performance. “I don’t think I deserved to win with the kind of game I played. He (Blaz) was playing really well and I think he too was in a similar spot like me in the second and third set,” he said after the match.
Runners-up from the last edition of the Bengaluru Tennis Open, Saketh Myneni looked sharp on the court and progressed to the next round in a more convincing fashion after a 6-3, 6-3 win over Russia’s Aslan Karatsev.
Tough day at the office for India’s wildcards
Of the five Indian wildcards in the draw, only one managed to make it to the next round of the Bengaluru Tennis Open and that too at the expense of his fellow countryman in what was one of the matches of the day between reigning national champion Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha and Karnataka local boy Adil Kalyanpur.
Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha won the first game 6-4 and looked like he wanted to wrap things up quickly. He maintained a good first-serve percentage throughout the match and his eight aces were instrumental to his eventual victory but Adil Kalyanpur ensured that he made life difficult for his compatriot.
After dropping the first set, young Adil Kalyanpur showed his character and grit to win the next set 7-6 (7-5) despite quite a few double faults.
The local boy then broke Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha in the third set but the national champion showed his experience in what became a test of nerves in the final set. Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha broke back and took the deciding set into another tie-break, which he won 7-4 on this occasion to progress to the next round.
Meanwhile, another wildcard, Pune’s Arjun Kadhe succumbed to a straight-set 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) loss against Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri, who will be facing eighth seed Sumit Nagal in the next round at the Bengaluru Tennis Open.
Wildcards Suraj Prabodh and Prajwal Dev also went down in straight sets. Suraj Prabodh lost 2-6, 2-6 against Vladyslav Orlov, while Prajwal Dev went down 2-6, 1-6 against Uzbekistan’s Khumoyun Sultanov.
The last match of the day saw Sidharth Rawat going up against Croatia’s Borna Gojo. The Croatian broke the Indian tennis player in the fourth game of the opening set but Sidharth Rawat broke straight back to the delight of the home crowd.
However, Borna Gojo broke Sidharth Rawat again in the eighth game of the first set and this time managed to consolidate and take the opening set 6-3.
Both players held their serves to make it 6-6 in the second set, leading to a tie-break that Sidharth Rawat won 7-3. The third set also went to a tie break once with both players breaking serve once each. Once again, Sidharth Rawat won the tie break 7-3 to win the match and qualify for the next round.
“I am thrilled with the result, more so with my game as it fell in place when it was needed,” Sidharth Rawat said.
What next for Indian tennis players at Bengaluru Tennis Open
Winner of the 2017 Bengaluru Tennis Open Sumit Nagal will be in action against Malek Jaziri on Tuesday while Sasikumar Mukund will also be in action again facing Belarus’ Ilya Ivashka.
Like Sasikumar Mukund, Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha will return to court to face Lukas Rosol less than 24 hours after his hard-fought win against Adil Kalyanpur. Saketh Myneni also finds himself in the same situation as he prepares to face Evgeny Donskoy on Tuesday.
Over in the doubles, Vijay Sundar Prashanth and Vishnu Vardhan will square off against Cheng Peng Hsieh and Denys Molchanov, while Sriram Balaji and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan take on Nikola Milojevic and Frederico Ferreira Silva.
An all-Indian doubles clash featuring the team of Purav Raja and Ramkumar Ramanathan against Prajwal Dev and Adil Kalyanpur will be the last match of the day.
Where to watch the Bengaluru Tennis Open
Held at the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association in Bengaluru, the coverage of Bengaluru Tennis Open 2020 will be streamed live on the ATP website.