Sumit Nagal’s dream of defending his Bengaluru Open title went up in smoke after he was knocked out in the quarterfinals of the USD 1,50,000 ATP Challenger event by compatriot Saketh Myneni on Thursday. Nagal lost in straight sets 4-6 4-6 to Myneni, a wild card entrant.
Joining Myneni in the semifinals was fourth seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran, who did not have to break a sweat to get the better of Sasi Kumar Mukund, who had to withdraw owing to a severe back pain after losing three service points he managed on the day.
In the semifinals, Myneni will clash with Aleksandr Nedovyesov of Kazakhstan, who won 6-4 6-2 over Frederico Ferreira Silva of Portugal while Gunneswaran will meet Canadian Brayden Schnur. Schnur beat Cem Ilkel of Turkey 6-3 6-4 in another quarterfinal encounter.
Myneni and Nagal played contrasting tennis. While the former waited for opportunities to catch his opponent on the wrong foot, the latter as usual played with aggression, hitting long and deep shots.
With a break in the very first game, Myneni, ranked 213 in the world, bagged the first set 6-4.
The second set saw both the players swerving on their serves, owing to an extra bit of a wind. The set took a different pattern from the fifth game, where the Delhiite, with two game points up, lost his serve.
The serves were broken for the next four games as well. Nagal lost his serve in the seventh and ninth games because of double faults while Myneni was broken in the sixth and eight games, thanks to unforced errors.
Finally, Myneni kept the ball in play when it mattered and closed out the set and match 6-4 6-4.
“I know that he (Nagal) is an aggressive player. I know him off the court as well. And considering the conditions, I was serving well for the first set and half and then things changed a bit. However, I was very much in control,” Myneni said.
“It is unfortunate that two Indians played in the same match. I hate this as we should be playing against the world and not each other,” he said.
“I am not thinking of any plans for the future. I would go week by week and this week is priority for me as I need to gauge my fitness levels before I decide on playing,” he added.
In another quarterfinal, Gunneswaran hardly had to do anything to register the win as his Mukund conceded the match owing to back pain.
“It was at the fag end of my warm up that the pain showed up and then I could not walk anymore with pain shooting in my lower back,” Mukund said.
“I feel very bad for the school kids who came to watch with enthusiasm and it had to end like this. Although it is not my fault but I still will not be able to forgive myself,” he said.
In doubles semifinal, second seeded Indo-Croatian pair of Purav Raja and Antonio Sancic prevailed over Indian pair of Arjun Kadhe and Myneni 3-6 6-2 10-8 to enter the title clash.
The duo will meet Australian pair of Max Purcell and Luke Seville in the final.