India’s singles hopes at the Bengaluru Open ATP Challenger tournament rests solely in the hands of Prajnesh Gunneswaran, as all the other remaining home players, including Ramkumar Ramanathan, crashed out in the first round on Tuesday.
Prajnesh defeated Frenchman Mathias Bourgue 7-6 (4), 6-2 to set up a second-round meeting with top seed Jiri Vesely, who overcame a stiff challenge from Swiss qualifier Antoine Bellier 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2.
Prajnesh and Bourgue traded breaks twice in the first set before the former had to stave off three set points on his serve at 5-6.
The set slipped into a tie-break, but once there it was smooth sailing for Prajnesh, as the 2018 champion won the tie-break to four points and breezed through the second set.
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The in-form Ramkumar, however, disappointed. In the last singles match of the day, he was beaten 3-6, 6-0, 7-5 by Aussie Max Purcell, a losing doubles finalist at the Australian Open.
Ramkumar, after having digested a second-set bagel, was up 4-2 in the third, only to lose five of the last six games to hand his opponent the victory.
In the capricious third set, Purcell was steady when he needed to be, even as Ramkumar paid the price for some erratic serving. He served a whopping 11 double faults in the match and had a lowly first-serve percentage of 49.
Also on the day, qualifier Arjun Kadhe and wild cards Rishi Reddy and SD Prajwal Dev all bit the dust. Second seed Stefano Travaglia also crashed out, beaten by France’s Alexandre Muller 6-1, 7-6 (2).
The results (Indians unless specified, first round):
Singles: Gabriel Decamps (Bra) bt Federico Gaio (Ita) 6-3, 6-3; Altug Celikbilek (Tur) bt Arjun Kadhe 6-1, 6-2; Borna Gojo (Cro) bt Rio Noguchi (Jpn) 3-6, 6-1, 6-2; Alexandre Muller (Fra) bt Stefano Travaglia (Ita) 6-1, 7-6 (2); Jiri Vesely (Cze) bt Antoine Bellier (Sui) 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2; Cem Ilkel (TUR) bt Steven Diez (Can) 6-2, 6-3; Prajnesh Gunneswaran (Ind) bt Mathias Bourgue (Fra) bt 7-6 (4), 6-2; Dimitar Kuzmanov (Bul) bt SD Prajwal Dev 6-2, 6-2; Evgeny Donskoy (Rus) bt Malek Jaziri (Tun) 7-6 (10), 6-4; 6-Enzo Couacaud (Fra) bt Rishi Reddy 6-1, 6-3; Max Purcell (Aus) bt Ramkumar Ramanathan 3-6, 6-0, 7-5.
Doubles: Yuki Bhambri & Divij Sharan bt Celikbilek & Cem Ilkel (Tur) 3-1 (retd.); Jay Clarke (GBR) & Marc Polmans (Aus) bt Arjun Kadhe & Chun-hsin Tseng (Tpe) 2-6, 6-4, [10-7]; Alexander Erler (Aut) & Vit Kopriva (Cze) bt Adil Kalyanpur & Mukund Sasikumar 6-4, 7-5.