BENGALURU: Indian tennis players have always rued the lack of ATP tournaments in the country. With just one ATP 250 and one or two Challenger events a year, they have a point.
The likes of India’s singles specialists — Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Sumit Nagal, Ramkumar Ramanathan, Saketh Myneni, and Yuki Bhambri — all have to travel elsewhere to compete. At the Bengaluru Open Challenger, Indians had won the last two editions — Nagal in 2017 and Gunneswaran in the last edition.
This time, India had a better chance of making it three in a row with as many as 11 players in the singles main draw. However, all of them exited before reaching the quarterfinals.
On Thursday, Gunneswaran’s 6-7 (5), 0-6 loss to Benjamin Bonzi of France in the pre-quarterfinal ended India’s challenge. Earlier, Myneni lost to ninth seed Thomas Fabbiano 4-6, 7-5, 2-6, Nagal lost to 11th seed Blaz Rola 3-6, 3-6 while Ramanathan suffered a 6-7(2), 1-6 defeat to Ilya Ivashka. National champion Niki Poonacha also exited from the third round, losing to third seed Yuichi Sugita of Japan 5-7, 3-6.
For Gunneswaran especially, it was a bad day at the office. The India No 1 won just 17 per cent of his first serve and 13 per cent of the second to surrender the set 0-6.
“I didn’t do anything right from the start to the end today (Thursday). It wasn’t an issue of focus. I wasn’t comfortable from the beginning and that was the case throughout the first set. Once I lost the first set, I kind of lost the match mentally,” said Gunneswaran.
Paes-Ebden in semis
Indian doubles players though had a good day. The pair of Purav Raja and Ramkumar Ramanathan booked a place in the semifinals while Saketh Myneni and Leander Paes won their respective matches with their Australian partners.
Against the Maharashtra Open champion duo of Christopher Rungkat and Andre Goransson, Paes and Matthew Ebden were stretched to the limit. But in the end, Paes-Ebden won 7-5, 0-6, 10-7 in the super tie-break of the quarterfinals.
“They were returning very well and we struggled with that a bit. But we kept coming back. In the second set, we lost three deuce points. That was where we couldn’t do more,” said Paes.
Results (Indians unless specified):
Singles (pre-quarters): T Fabbiano (ITA) bt S Myneni 6-4, 5-7, 6-2; I Ivashka (BLR) bt R Ramanathan 7-6 (2), 6-1; B Rola (SLO) bt S Nagal 6-3, 6-3; B Bonzi (FRA) bt P Gunneswaran 7-6 (5), 6-0; Y Sugita (JPN) bt N Poonacha (IND) 7-5, 6-3; S Travaglia (ITA) bt M Safwat (EGY) 6-2, 7-6 (5); J Duckworth (AUS) bt F Ferreira Silva (POR) 7-6 (9), 6-1; J Ocleppo (ITA) bt S Rawat 7-5, 6-4.