Leander Paes keeps Bengaluru Tennis Open hopes alive

Defending singles winner Prajnesh Gunneswaran too kept his title defence effort on course.

By Sandeep Banerjee ·

Indian tennis legend Leander Paes’ hopes of one last home hurrah stayed strong at the Bengaluru Tennis Open on Wednesday.

Paired up with Australia’s Matthew Ebden once again, Leander Paes won their round of 16 doubles match 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 against the Slovenian-Chinese duo of Blaz Rola and Zhang Zhizhen.

The opening set saw a close battle followed by a tiebreaker. But the Indo-Australian duo put on a clinical performance in the race to seven points as the Paes-Ebden pair forced three service breaks to win 7-2.

The second set didn't draw out quite as long. A crucial service break forced by Paes-Ebden in the tenth game decided the outcome 6-4 in favour of the Indo-Australian duo.

Leander Paes commended the IOC and the Japan Olympic Committee for the decision

Leander Paes and Matthew Ebden will play in the third-seeded duo of Christopher Rungkat and Andre Goransson in the quarter finals.

Third seeded Rungkat-Goransson ended Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Sumit Nagal’s run in doubles.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran’s title defence on track

While his doubles campaign faltered later in the day, the 2018 Bengaluru Tennis Open winner Prajnesh Gunneswaran kept his title defence effort on course in his round-of-32 match against Sebastian Fanselow, beating the German 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.

“The tag of the defending champion did not have an effect on me as it has been more than a year,” Prajnesh Gunneswaran explained in the post-match press conference. “Although I committed a few mistakes, which were not necessary, I am playing well and look forward to carrying on the form.”

The win sees Gunneswaran move on to the round-of-16 where he will face Benjamin Bonzi of France.

Other results and fixtures

Meanwhile, Saketh Myneni and Australian Matt Reid beat Nikshep Ravikumar and Vasisht Cheruku 6-3, 6-1 to move on to the qualifiers.

Rishi Reddy, who found himself in the main draw as a 'lucky loser' after Czech Jiri Vesely pulled out, lost again, for good this time, with a 2-6, 2-6 defeat at the hands of Sidharth Rawat.

Abhinav Shanmugam joined him soon after, following a 1-6, 3-6 loss in his round-of-32 match against 17th seed Ramkumar Ramanathan.

What’s next for India?

Purav Raja and Ramkumar Ramanathan, who made it through the doubles round-of-16 on Tuesday, will face Serbia's Nikola Milojevic and Portugal's Frederico Silva in the quarter-final on Thursday.

Also, Matt Reid and Saketh Myneni will take on the Taiwanese-Ukrainian pairing of Cheng-Peng Hsieh and Denys Molchanov.

In singles, there will be five round-of-16 singles fixtures for Indians to look forward to on Thursday: Sumit Nagal takes on Solvenia’s Blaz Rola, Saketh Myneni faces Thomas Fabbiano of Italy, Ramkumar Ramanathan will be up against Belarus’ Ilya Ivashka, Prajnesh Gunneswaran will play against Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi, and Niki Poonacha will take the court against Japan’s Yuichi Sugita.

Where to watch the Bengaluru Tennis Open

The Bengaluru Tennis Open is being played at the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association in Bengaluru and, being a part of the ATP’s Challenger Tour, the tournament will be streamed live on the ATP website.