Bengaluru, Feb 9: The third edition of the Bengaluru Open that begins on Monday boasts of one of the strongest fields assembled in a Challenger event in recent times, at least going by the words of defending champion Prajnesh Gunneswaran who leads the Indian challenge along with 2017 winner Sumit Nagal.
“All the good guys who played in Pune ATP last week are here and I am expecting a tough competition here,” said the Prajnesh who is the highest ranked Indian at 122 and seeded seventh here.
Although the event suffered a mild set back with the withdrawal of the top seed Ricardas Berankis owing to medical reasons, the field still boasts of good players who are in best of their form. Second seed Stefano Travaglia from Italy began the current season with a runner-up finish at the Bendigo 2 Championship in Australia while third seed Japanese Yuichi Sugita had reached a ranking of 36 in the world just two seasons ago.
The fourth seed James Duckworth of Australia has won four out of six Challenger final appearances before landing in Bengaluru. For his part, Prajnesh has the distinction of entering the main draw of all the Grand Slams in the last season and in fact made it 5 in a row!
“I was carrying a few injuries which hampered my performance during the fag end of the Tour. However, I am almost in good shape and looking forward to a good week here,” said Prajnesh who reached a career high of 75 last year.
“Bengaluru has been a happy hunting ground for me and I like the conditions here although the ball plays a bit tricky here,” said the 30-year-old while adding “the tag of the defending champion is not playing on my mind. I intend to take a match at a time.”
Meanwhile the Bengaluru Open victory in 2017 laid the foundation for Sumit Nagal’s phenomenal run in 2019 with the famed first set win against the legendary Roger Federer in the US Open. Continuing his exploits, he not only earned his second Challenge Title at Buenos Aires but won both his singles to help India rout Pakistan 4-0 in the Davis Cup tie as well. Currently, ranked 125th and seeded eighth and has reached a career high of 125 on ATP rankings.
“The year has been good for me and I am in my best form. The experiences at the Grand Slam have boosted my confidence which helped me win on clay as well,” said Sumit. “I love coming here. The crowd, the setting and the environment gives me a positive vibe every time I play. Hope to repeat my 2017 performance,” said the 22-year-old.
Order of Play Round-1 (featuring Indian players only):
Starting 11 a.m.
Blaz Cavcic (SLO) Vs. Mukund Sasikumar (IND)
[WC] Arjun Kadhe (IND) vs. Malek Jaziri (TUN)
Aslan Karatsev (RUS) Vs. Saketh Myneni (IND)
[WC] Niki Poonacha (IND) vs. [WC] Adil Kalyanpur (IND)
Vladyslav Orlov (UKR) vs. [WC] Suraj Prabodh (IND)
[WC] Prajwal Dev (IND) Vs. Khumoyun Sultanov (UZB)
Starting 5 p.m.
Sidharth Rawat (IND) Vs. Borna Gojo (CRO)
Source: Press Release