Sasikumar Mukund loses to Russia's Evgeny Donskoy in Lucknow ITF event semis
The Indian fifth seed fought well before losing to the Russian third seed, who will face Ukraine’s Eric Vanshelboim in the final of the ITF $25K Men’s Open in Lucknow on Saturday
India’s Sasikumar Mukund played one of his best matches of the season before losing to Russia’s Evgeny Donskoy in the semi-finals of the ITF $25,000 Men’s Open hardcourt tennis tournament in Lucknow on Saturday.
Mukund, 26, had his moments in both sets before the Indian ranked 401 in the world saw the experienced Russian, who was ranked as high as world No 65 but has slipped to 302, win 7-6 (7-4) and 7-5 in just over two hours at the Ekana Sportz City complex.
Donskoy, 33, faces a tense final on Sunday against Ukraine’s 21-year-old Eric Vanshelboim, who upset Vietnamese top-seed Nam Hoang Ly 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 in the other semi-final that also went past the two-hour mark. Tennis matches between players of the two countries have been fraught affairs due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Mukund held the early advantage in both sets, only for Donskoy to rally, catching the Indian on the wrong foot at crucial moments. The player who has had Russia’s former world No 1 Marat Safin as a mentor was glad his game fell into place when he wanted.
“It was a pretty good match for me. This week, I am playing better tennis. Today, I was lucky to play good at the important moments,” said Donskoy.
The Russian can complete back-to-back victories, having won the title in last week’s New Delhi leg. “I enjoyed my tennis in the Delhi-leg last week and hoping for another title on Indian soil,” he said. “Vanshelboim is a solid opponent; I’ll have to play my best to win tomorrow.”
Mukund began well until his serve was broken in the seven game. He bounced back superbly and broke back Donskoy the very next game. But neither could hold serve before the set was decided by a closely contested tie-break, which Donskoy won.
It was a hard-fought second set too. Mukund was trailing 0-3 but bounced back superbly to level scores at 3-all. Donskoy served 12 aces in all while Mukund had four. Mukund showed control over his serves and groundstrokes but faltered at the net. Donskoy held the edge in terms of power to take the set and match.
Young Vanshelboim served powerfully and produced some great forehand shots to oust top seed Ly Hoang Nam. Having lost the first set 6-1, Nam engaged his younger rival in long rallies to win the second set. In the decider, Vansheilboim was more consistent as he eased to victory.
Australia’s Blake Ellis and Japan’s Suichi Sekiguchi won the men’s doubles title defeating India’s Parikshit Somani and Manish Sureshkumar 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 10-8. The India pair went up 4-2 in the second only for Ellis and Sekiguchi to force the tie-break, which Somani and Sureshkumar won. But the Indian pair committed too many unforced errors in the super tie-break to cede the match.
Singles (semis): Evgeny Donskoy (Rus) bt Sasikumar Mukund (Ind) 7-6 (7-4),7-5; Eric Vanshelboim (Ukr) bt Nam Hoang Ly (Viet) 6-1, 2-6, 6-3.
Doubles (final): Blake Ellis (Aus)/Suichi Sekiguchi (Jpn) bt Parikshit Somani/Manish Sureshkumar (Ind) 6-2, 6-7, 10-8.