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Maks upsets top seed Mukund enroute to SKME ITF Open semifinals.

Maks upsets top seed Mukund enroute to SKME ITF Open semifinals

Bengaluru, 18 March, 2022   

Maks Kasnikowski of Poland created the biggest ripple in the ongoing US $ 15000 SKME ITF Open being played at the KSLTA Stadium. On a sultry Friday, the 18-year-old laboured his way to a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory over the top seed Indian Sasikumar Mukund to enter the semifinals and will meet fifth seed Arjun Khade of India who overcame a fighting Digvijay Pratap Singh 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 (2).

In the other quarterfinal clashes, fourth seed Manish Sureshkumar overcame mid-match cramps and eighth seed Englishman Julian Cash (GBR) with a 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3 victory to set up a semifinal bout against second seed Sidharth Rawat who brushed aside the challenge of seventh seed Niki Poonacha in straight sets 6-2, 6-4.

As many as three Indians figure in the singles semifinals while an Indian is assured of the doubles title after the all Indian pair of second seeded Sasikumar Mukund and Vishnu Vardhan beat fellow Indians Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni 6-3, 2-6, 10-8 while the top seeded pair of Khade and Julian Cash downed the fourth seeded duo of Frenchman Constantin Bittoun Kouzmine and SD Prajwal Dev of India 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals.

Maks, the 18-year-old who achieved his career best Junior World ranking of 12 this year, took some time to adjust against his fancied rival Mukund, who raced to a 4-1 lead before the Polish lad levelled at 4 and forced the set into a tie-breaker, thanks to many unforced errors by the Indian. Despite the blemishes, Mukund won the tie-break. The second set saw both the players holding their respective serves until the issue was decided again via a tie-break which the visitor won at 5. Taking advantage of a tired-looking Mukund, who apart from losing his serve also lost a bit of temper and was slapped a point penalty for ball abuse, Maks with an early break, kept the advantage to cruise through the decider in a match that lasted just a little over three hours.

Kadhe meanwhile, looking for a second successive title, was 1-3 down after losing serve in the third game. However, the Bengaluru Open doubles champion came back strongly winning three games on a trot including a break in the eighth game and broke again in the 12th to take the opening set. Digvijay returned the favour in the second set after the players had traded a break each in the first part of the set. The 21-year-old Digvijay, playing some good serve and volley game, won three games in a row beginning from the 10th to seal the second set in his favour. In the decider Khade went 4-1 up with a break in the fourth game. However, his younger opponent restored parity by the eighth game while the rivals held their respective serves to take the set into a tie-breaker. A couple of unforced errors cost Digvijay the set and match.


Singles (Quarterfinals)

5-Arjun Kadhe (IND) bt Q-Digvijay Pratap Singh (IND) 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 (2); Maks Kasnikowski (POL) bt 1-Sasikumar Mukund (IND) 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-3; 4-Manish Sureshkumar (IND) bt 8-Julian Cash (GBR) 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3; 2-Sidharth Rawat (IND) bt 7-Niki Poonacha (IND) 6-2, 6-4.

Doubles Semifinals

1-Julian Cash (GBR)/Arjun Kadhe (IND) bt 4-Constantin Bittoun Kouzmine (FRA)/SD Prajwal Dev (IND) 6-3, 6-2;

2-Sasikumar Mukund (IND)/Vishnu Vardhan (IND) bt 3-Yuki Bhambri (IND)/Saketh Myneni (IND) 6-3, 2-6, 10-8

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