Pune, January 1: A confident 23-year-old Ramkumar Ramanathan gave India a head-start in the singles competition of the Tata Open Maharashtra as he advanced to the second round with a well-deserved 7-6, 6-2 win against Spain's Roberto Carballes Baena at the Mhalunge Balewadi Stadium, Pune on Monday.
The World No 148 came into the tournament as a wildcard entrant but produced some inspiring tennis to stamp his authority on the match. He won the tie-break in a closely-contested first set and wrapped up the match with a dominant second set performance to start 2018 with a bang.
Earlier, Frenchman Gilles Simon started off his season with a win against USA's Tennys Sandgren in straight sets 6-4, 6-1. The 33-year-old had a disappointing 2017 but showed signs of encouragement when he beat the American to advance to the second round.
Ricardo Ojeda Lara's win over sixth seed Jiri Vesely was the highlight of the first-round matches. The match between the two finished 6-3, 7-6 in Lara's favour as the Czech had to concede an early defeat at India's only ATP 250 World Tour event. The 24-year-old Spaniard had qualified for the main draw after winning two matches in the qualifiers and looked like the man-in-form as he won the first set comfortably. In the second set, Vesely tried to bounce back but could not win the set as Lara ran away with a surprise victory.
Singles 1st Round - Centre Court: @GillesSimon84 steamrolls @TennysSandgren in straight sets as the Frenchman books his place in the second round of the #TataOpenMaharashtra after defeating the American (6-4, 6-1). #AdvantagePune pic.twitter.com/2ZGhpOw5Nr— Tata Open Maharashtra (@MaharashtraOpen) January 1, 2018
However, seventh-seeded Mikhail Kukushkin did not let Moldova's Radu Albot also cause an upset as he defeated the latter 6-2, 7-6. Albot got the backing of the crowd but could not match the efficiency of World No 74 Kukushkin as the player from Kazakhstan took the first set 6-2. In the second set, Albot tried to put up a fight but Kukushkin utilised his experience to wrap up the match with a well-deserved win.
Eighth-seeded Pierre-Hugues Herbert won his first-round match in three sets as he beat Italy's Marco Cecchinato 7-6, 6-7, 6-2 to advance into the next round.
Singles 1st Round - Court 1:— Tata Open Maharashtra (@MaharashtraOpen) January 1, 2018
An early upset in the tournament as @RikiOjeda beat #TataOpenMaharashtra's 6th seed, Jiri Vesely (6-3, 7-6) in straight sets.🙌
What a way to start 2018 and that victory walk! 😎#AdvantagePune #TataOpenMaharashtra pic.twitter.com/mg3OJ8UfIx
World No 85 Marton Fucsovics defeated Nicolas Kicker in straight sets 6-0, 6-3 to advance to the second round. The Hungarian produced some exciting tennis to open his campaign in Pune as Kicker looked rusty, winning only 44% on his first service and conceded the loss to the higher-ranked Fucsovics.
Chile's Nicolas Jarry also advanced to the second round after beating Spain's Pablo Andujar in three sets 6-7, 6-4, 7-5.
In the Men's Doubles category, the Indian pairing of N Sriram Balaji and Vishnu Vardhan lost to British-Canadian pairing of Neal Skupski and Adil Shamasdin in three sets 3-6, 7-6, 10-6. Balaji-Vardhan pair was backed by the crowd at the Mhalunge Balewadi Stadium centre court giving them the first set comfortably 6-3. However, in a close second set, Skupski-Shamasdin beat the Indian pair 7-6 after the tie-break. In the third set, Balaji-Vardhan seemed to have lost momentum which resulted in them losing out in the tie-break again.
Singles 1st Round - Centre Court: #TataOpenMaharashtra's 7th seed, Mikhail Kukushkin begins the game on a high note as he takes the first set (6-2) with ease. Can Radu Albot put up a fight in the second set?#AdvantagePune #TataOpenMaharashtra pic.twitter.com/ciYWdzjoRQ— Tata Open Maharashtra (@MaharashtraOpen) January 1, 2018
Men's singles (First Round)
Ricardo Ojeda Lara (ESP) bt Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-3, 7-6
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) bt Radu Albot (MDV) 6-2, 7-6
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) bt Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 7-6, 6-7, 6-2
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) bt Nicolas Kicker (ARG) 6-0, 6-3
Nicolas Jarry (CHI) bt Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-7, 6-4, 7-5
Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND) bt Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 7-6(7/4), 6-2
Gilles Simon (FRA) bt Tennys Sandgren (USA) 6-4, 6-1
Men's doubles (First Round)
Robin Haase (NED)/Matwe Middelkoop (NED) bt Arjun Kadhe (IND)/Benoit Paire (FRA) 1-6, 7-5, 10-7
Adil Shamasdin (CAN) / Neal Skupski (GBR) bt N Sriram Balaji (IND)/Vishnu Vardhan (IND) 3-6, 7-6(10/8), 10-6
Source: Press release