ATP Challenger: Gunneswaran marches into pre-quarters with straight sets win over Yang
The left-handed Indian looked in control from the moment he stepped onto the centre court and seldom showed any signs of losing the match against the unseeded Yang.
One hour and 31 minutes was what it took for the fourth seed and India’s number one singles player Prajnesh Gunneswaran to topple Taiwanese player Yang Tsung-hua by a 6-4, 6-4 scoreline at the KPIT MSLTA ATP Challenger organised by Maharashtra state lawn tennis association (MSLTA) and Pune metropolitan district tennis association (PMDTA) and played at Balewadi tennis complex on Tuesday.
The left-handed Indian looked in control from the moment he stepped onto the centre court and seldom showed any signs of losing the match against the unseeded Yang. Gunneswaran broke his opponent in the fifth game of the first set, which gave him a platform to build on en route to winning the first. Yang did offer some resistance come the final few games of the first set, but the 29-year-old held his nerve to win 6-4.
In the second, Yang showed that he was unwilling to go down without a fight and after holding his serve in the first game, he quickly broke Gunneswaran’s serve in the second to take a 2-0 in the early stages. However, the player from Taiwan failed to capitalise as he was unable to retain his serve in the following game, with the Indian targeting his extremely weak second serves.
Once Gunneswaran broke Yang for the second time in the match, it appeared that the Taiwanese’s fleeting momentum seemed to fade away as he made a number of unforced errors and was fortunate to hold his serve in the seventh game of the set after five deuces. In his next service game, Yang was broken for the third time in the match, giving his Indian adversary a 4-3 lead. On his next service game, the fourth seed served out the second set and sealed a berth in the round of 16 where he is set to face Germany’s Lucas Gerch.
In the day’s other matches, Pune boy Arjun Kadhe justified the wildcard given to him by the organisers as he upset second seeded Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-3, 6-2 to enter the pre-quarters of the main draw, in what was undoubtedly his biggest win of the calendar year.
Saketh Myeni, a senior professional, was also humbled by another wildcard as 21-year-old Sasi Kumar Mukund took an hour and 28 minutes to upset the world number 265 6-4, 7-6(1). Indian player Sumit Nagal failed to progress any further after bowing out to the top seed Radu Albot 7-5, 6-2.
Prajnesh Gunneswaran, said “I had to break once in the first and twice in the second, so it was far from an easy match. I played well enough in the important moments to find a way to win and I stayed tough and used the confidence I had from last week. There are four more matches still to go in the tournament so I’m not thinking about winning the whole thing right now.”
“He (Gunneswaran) played very well, served well too. He also deployed an aggressive way to play which made it really difficult for me to play. The tennis courts here are very good, but I think they can do a little more for the players. In the afternoons, we have to go back to the hotel and have lunch, and that shouldn’t be the case. Rest everything has been good here,” said Yang Tsung-hua:
Prajnesh Gunneswaran’s service from the off was on point and gave Yang Tsung-hua nightmares to deal with. The Taiwanese was unable to capitalise on his opponent’s second serves, while Gunneswaran did that to utmost perfection. The Indian also took control of a number of points and forced Yang to play from the baseline rather than closer to the net as he would have liked. Also, the Indian minimised the number of unforced errors in his game, which gave him vital momentum to go on and win the contest.
Main Draw (first round/round of 32)
[WC] Arjun Kadhe (IND) bt  Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND) 6-3, 6-2;
 Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND) bt Tsung-hua Yang (TPE) 6-4, 6-4;
[WC] Sasi Kumar Mukund (IND) bt Saketh Myneni (IND) 6-4, 7-6(1);
 Radu Albot (MDA) bt Sumit Nagal (IND) 7-5, 6-2;
[Q] Lucas Gerch (GER) bt Collin Altamirano (USA) 6-3, 6-1;
[Q] Sebastian Fanselow (GER) bt Scott Griekspoor (NED) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4;
Frederico Ferreira Silva (POR) bt [LL] Benjamin Hassan (GER)6-1, 6-2;
Aleksandr Nedovyesov (KAZ) bt  Marc Polmans (AUS)6-2, 6-4;
Maverick Banes (AUS) bt [Q] Francesco Vilardo (ITA)3-6, 6-4, 6-1;
[Q] Ben Patael (ISR) bt Danilo Petrovic (SRB) 7-5, 6-4, 6-4;
Men’s doubles first round
Mark Purcell/ Luke Saville bt Cem Ikel/ Danilo Petrovic 6-4, 1-6,(16-14)
Andrej Martin/ Hans Podipnik- Castillo bt Collin Altamirano/ Maverick Barnes 6-4, 7-5