Pune, January 2, 2023: Indian tennis players Sumit Nagal and the 15-year-old rising India star Manas Dhamne put up gutsy performances but ended up with hard-fought losses in their respective singles opening round matches at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune on Monday.
While the 25-year-old Nagal conceded a 4-6, 6-4, 4-6 defeat in a thrilling three-setter encounter against the sixth seeded Filip Krajinovic, Dhamne impressed on his ATP Tour debut before going down fighting against the World No. 113 Michael Mmoh 2-6, 4-6.
Nagal, a wildcard entrant, recovered well in time after losing the first set against the World No. 54 Serbian player. He looked in good touch as the game progressed and pocketed the second set comfortably to level the scores.
However, the former World No. 26, who defeated Novak Djokovic in Belgrade in 2010, held his nerve in the decider and somehow managed to tilt the result in his favour despite a stiff challenge from Nagal.
Earlier in the day, the tennis prodigy Dhamne, another wildcard, began confidently by bagging the opening game in the first set.
Playing in front of the home fans, the local boy Dhamne made the former World No. 96, Mmoh work hard for each point
“I was a bit nervous before the match but as I went onto the court and played a few points, I felt good. The first point was really important. It calmed me down and the nervousness went away,” Dhamne said after the match.
The American pocketed the first set 6-2 and even carried the momentum in the next by taking a strong 5-1 lead. But, the reigning Asian Junior champion Dhamne refused to give up and fought-back hard as he almost took the match into decider by bagging three successive games to make it 5-4.
However, Mmoh, who has played all four Grand Slams, used all of his experience to secure the match in the end.
“I had a chance, maybe the match could have been different. I am happy with the way I performed. It was a really good experience. I will try to improve when I play the next tournament,” Dhamne, who has also been selected for the Grand Slam Player Grant Programme 2023, concluded.
The ongoing edition of South Asia’s only ATP 250 event, which is being conducted by the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA) in association with the Government of Maharashtra for the fifth year in Pune.
Meanwhile in other Round-of-32 singles matches, Laslo Djere and Tallon Griekspoor produced strong winning shows against the seeded players. While Djere thrashed the No. 5 seed Alex Molcan 6-2, 6-4, Griekspoor beat seventh seeded Jaume Munar 6-4, 7-5.
Roberto Carballes Baena, Marco Cecchinato and Benjamin Bonzi were others to progress into the second round.
In the doubles Round of 16 match, Julian Cash and Henry Patten notched up a 7-5, 6-4 win against Diego Hidalgo and Emil Ruusuvuori.
India No. 1 Mukund Sasikumar and Ramkumar Ramanathan will kickstart their challenge in the singles opening round on Tuesday.
Indian doubles star Rohan Bopanna and Ramanathan will also be up against each other in the doubles opening round with their respective partners. Yuki Bhambri-Saketh Myneni and Purav Raja-Divij Sharan are among the other Indians to begin their campaigns on Day 2 of the main draw.
The prestigious tournament, owned by IMG and managed by RISE Worldwide, is sponsored by Tata Motors.
The tournament will go on till January 7.
Where to watch: (Main Draw) Sports18 – 1 SD, Sports18 – 1 HD and JioCinema.