Mukund is all substance

Sasi Kumar Mukund of India returns to Blaz Kavcic of Slovakia during their pre-quarterfinal match in Bengaluru on Wednesday. DH Photo/ Srikanta Sharma R

Watching Sasi Kumar Mukund play doesn’t really set your pulses racing. His shots are not power-packed and his game is based on just trying to get as many balls back onto the court.

He doesn’t have big serves like Saketh Myneni who was playing in the adjacent court at the same time. While Myneni was landing the balls consistently down the T that saw him clinch the opening set against Youssef Hossam in just 19 minutes, Mukund was trying hard to break Blaz Kavcic.

Unlike Prajnesh Gunneswaran, who is a delight to watch, seeing Mukund can be a taxing affair. But hidden beneath that no-frills game is a desire to climb up the charts. When this season started, the 21-year-old, who won three Futures title the previous year, could have chosen to play on the ITF circuit and pocketed some more trophies. But, in a bid to improve his game and make himself better prepared for the next season where the value of playing in Futures will be considerably diminished, the youngster decided to slog it out in the Challenger circuit this year.

The move has paid good dividends with Mukund reaching four quarterfinals, including the Bengaluru Open where he made his way into the main draw after winning the three-round qualifying event. “No offence but the reason why many Indian players are not up there is because all of us can play really good tennis but guys like Kavcic have been playing Challengers for a while now,” said Mukund after his pre-quarterfinal opponent retired while trailing 6-7, 1-3.

“They are physically strong. Top 100 comes from consistency, adding points week after week. You can’t have one amazing week and then four ordinary ones. Mentally also you need to be fit, you can’t feel home sick.

“In a year, you’ll have to experience 30 different cuisines, hotels etc. Those guys still have to come out and give their best. Physically also they are able to cope with varying conditions. It’s all about ability. Either you have it or you don’t. And that’s what I learnt from them.”

A key figure in Mukund’s good show this year has been his coach Martin Spottel. Mukund met him during a tournament last year and the two kick-started an association this February.

Mukund trains with Spottel in Vienna, Austria and the coach also travels with the team of 5-6 players, some of whom are competing here at KSLTA.

On Thursday, Mukund will be attempting to reach a maiden ATP Challenger semifinal but standing in his path will be Gunneswaran.

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Mukund is all substance

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