Indian tennis hopes were dented in the early going at the Tata Open Maharashtra at Pune’s Mahalunge Balewadi Stadium on Monday, as both Sumit Nagal and Ramkumar Ramanathan lost out in their round of 32 singles matches.
Despite a strong comeback effort, Indian ace Sumit Nagal went down to Serbia's Viktor Troicki 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 1-6 while Ramkumar Ramanathan got off to a winning start but derailed soon after to lose out 6-3, 4-6, 5-7 to Italy’s Salvatore Caruso.
Sumit Nagal got off to a less-than-ideal start on the opening set, having his service game broken by Troicki and then falling back 0-2 after the Serbian held serve in the second game.
After four games, Sumit Nagal was broken once again and after trailing 2-5, it was just a matter of holding serve in the next game for Troicki, as he took the first set 6-2.
Commendable comeback from Sumit Nagal
The second set saw the Indian no. 2 mount a fightback at the Tata Open Maharashtra. Even though he was the first to be broken, he returned the favour on the very next game to equalise the score at 3-3.
After that, both men continued to hold their serve, setting up a tiebreaker.
That's where Sumit Nagal came alive, breaking Troicki three times and converting his second set point to level the match.
Unfortunately for Sumit Nagal, the brilliant fightback faded in the third set, getting broken twice en route to a 1-6 loss and elimination from the Tata Open Maharashtra.
Good start comes undone for Ramkumar Ramanathan
Sumit Nagal’s compatriot Ramkumar Ramanathan, who made it as far as the quarter-final stage of the Bangkok ATP Challenger in January, got off to a heady start in his match against Salvatore Caruso.
A broken serve in the sixth game made all the difference in the opening set for Salvatore Caruso, as it put him at a 2-5 disadvantage that he never could overcome, as Ramkumar Ramanathan took the set 6-3.
However, the momentum was short-lived, as Ramkumar Ramanathan was broken twice in the second set to fall back to a two-game deficit, allowing Caruso to take second set 6-4.
The deciding set of the match saw both men give it their all, holding serve in the first 11 games. Eventually, it was Ramkumar Ramanathan who failed to hold up his end of the serve on the 12th service of the set, deciding the set, and the match, in Caruso’s favour and ending the slugfest that lasted for two hours and 23 minutes.
What’s next for India?
Tuesday’s ties at the Tata Open Maharashtra will see the Indo-Aussie duo of Leander Paes and Matthew Ebden take on India’s Divij Sharan and New Zealand’s Artem Sitak in the round of 16 doubles match. Local favourites Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Arjun Kadhe, meanwhile, will take on Germany’s Yannick Maden and Czech Republic’s Jiri Vesely respectively in their round of 32 singles matches.
Then, on Wednesday, India’s Sasi Kumar Mukund will face Japan’s Taro Daniel in their round of 32 singles match, while Ramkumar Ramanathan will return to the court to pair up with Purav Raja for their round of 16 doubles match against the German duo of Peter Gojowczyk and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe.
Where to watch the Tata Open Maharashtra?
The matches of the Tata Open Maharashtra will broadcast on Star Sports Select HD 2, and streamed on Jio TV and Hotstar.
On social media, there will be a Facebook Live stream on the official page of the Tata Open Maharashtra for centre court matches, restricted to the Indian subcontinent.