News - Match - Player
Bengaluru, 16 November, 2018
The home crowd could not have asked for a better finish to the US $ 150,000 Bengaluru Open ATP Challenger than an all Indian final. In contrasting semifinals played at the KSLTA here on Friday, Saketh Myneni came back from a set down to win against Khazak Aleksandr Nedovyesov 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 while fourth seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran brushed aside the challenge of Brayden Schnur 6-4, 6-1. Incidentally it is only the second time in the Challenger history that two Indians will be figuring in a final.
The Australian duo of Max Purcell and Luke Seville upset the second seeds Purav Raja of India and Antonio Sancic of Crotia 7-6 (3), 6-3 to lift the doubles crown. Incidentally, this is the fourth finals for Purav in six final appearances, winning the other two.
In a match that lasted for a little over two hours, both the players began on an aggressive note and held on to their serves until the fourth game before Aleksandr achieved the all-important break in the fifth game of the first set, thanks to unforced errors on the part of Saketh.
The games got longer in the second set and so did the errors by both the players. Aleksandr who had reached a career best ranking of 72, four seasons ago, saved two break points in the second game and went on to break his opponent’s serve in the third to gain a 2-1 advantage. However, once again unforced errors caused him to lose his serve in the sixth game when the scores were level. This proved to be the turning point for Saketh, who, egged on by the crowd, upped his game and played some good cross court winners. “The crowd here was awesome and I owe my victory to them. I have never done “come-on” and that kind of stuff. But today, I did as I think the crowd deserved it,” admitted the lanky player who broke Alekdandr’s serve in the 10th game to take the set 6-4.
The decider was seeming to be a formality with the Indian firing on all guns and racing to a 5-0 lead with breaks in the first and third games. Things started to take a turn as 31-year-old Kazhak staged a fightback and held his serve in the sixth. Serving for the match, Saketh double faulted four times in three games and a couple of silly errors at the net saw him losing his serve in the 7th and 9th games as the lead narrowed down to 5-4. “I lost my concentration for a brief while. These kind of mistakes should not happen but then I am happy that all went well for me,” said Saketh who sent down six aces during the match. It was the turn of the Aleksandr who had found his mojo late in the third set, to commit errors as he hit into the net giving Saketh an entry into the final. “I have recovered considerably after an injury-prone season where I could not play for eight months. I still have a match to go and hope to keep it this way,” said the winner.
In a power packed second semifinal which lasted for a mere 57 minutes, saw Prajesh in the best of his form which has been phenomenal in the last couple of months. The left-handed displayed some superb tennis shots, especially his low forehand returns. After achieving a break in the very first game, he kept the pressure on and cornered the first set at 6-4. In the second, the 29-yearold began in a similar fashion in the second set and broke his rival’s serve once again in the fifth and seventh games to clinch the match. “I am happy to be in the final. I think today was the best that I have played this week,” said Gunneswaran who by the virtue of his win today will be crowned as India No.1. “I am delighted to know that I am no.1. I have been waiting for a while to reach this spot. Although it has still not sunk in, I feel very happy,” said the Chennai-born who was instrumental in India’s victory against China in the Davis Cup this year. “Saketh is not a conventional player and has his own style of game which is difficult to predict. But I think it will be a good match,” said the finalist.
Results (Semifinals) (Prefix denoted seeding, parenthesis denotes country)
WC-Saketh Myneni (IND) bt Aleksandr Nedovyesov (KAZ) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
4-Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND) bt Brayden Schnur (CAN) 6-4, 6-1
Max Purcell (AUS) / Luke Seville (AUS) bt 2- Purav Raja (IND) / Antonio Sancic (CRO) 7-6 (3), 6-3
WC-Saketh Myneni (IND) Vs. 4-Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND) 6 p.m.
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