Prajnesh outguns listless Myneni

Prajnesh outguns listless Myneni

TOP GUN: Prajnesh Gunneswaran with the Bengaluru Open trophy after defeating Saketh Myneni in Bengaluru on Saturday. Prajnesh won 6-2, 6-2. DH Photo/ Srikanta Sharma R

Bengaluru: The all-Indian Bengaluru Open title clash turned out to be a damp squib as Prajnesh Gunneswaran wasted little time in slaying a highly erratic Saketh Myneni to pocket his second ATP Challenger Tour title here on Saturday.

The tournament organisers beamed with delight on Friday evening when Prajnesh and Myneni scored contrasting wins to set up a final clash in the USD 150,000 event. A good crowd, including some senior politicians, too turned up at the KSLTA in the hope of watching an exciting finale. But they had none of it as Myneni, seemingly fatigued and not playing at his best, littered the courts with errors while a composed Prajnesh happily operated in third gear to seal a thumping 6-2, 6-2 in just 55 minutes.

“I think Saketh wasn’t feeling fresh after the marathon semifinal clash yesterday. He obviously played doubles as well. I had a walkover in the quarterfinal and won in straight sets yesterday. So I was the fresher of the two,” said Prajnesh.

“However, I had to do what I had to do. I stay focused and tried not to give him a chance because he can be dangerous. Glad to have gotten the job done pretty well,” added the 29-year-old after pocketing USD 21,600.

Myneni’s problems started as early as in the first game when Prajnesh broke him right away. Unable to pull out his big serves and finding it extremely hard to keep the ball on court, Myneni just kept gifting points on a platter to his rival, who didn’t have to break a sweat.

Not once did the southpaw face any pressure, often coasting home on his serves. On the other hand, Myneni put himself in danger in most of his service games as he just couldn’t land the ball where he wanted. Prajnesh then broke Myneni for a second time to lead 5-2 before sealing the set with a rasping backhand winner.

The second set also began the way Prajnesh wanted as he broke Myneni in the opening game itself. He knew then the trophy was his to lose. He only had to stay focused and not try anything extraordinary against a faltering opponent. He did that very well, often serving to the body of Myneni and mixing his returns with a good amount of spin.

Myneni pulled out some skillful drop shots from the back of the court and cross court winners but with unforced errors outweighing them heavily, Prajnesh always stayed in pole position. He then slammed the door on Myneni by breaking him in the fifth game before finishing it off a service winner in the eighth game.

Prajesh, ranked 144 at the start of week, will now be hoping to triumph in the Pune Challenger next week and gain nearly 40 places in ATP rankings.

That may put him on the cusp of a main draw berth in the season-opening Australian Open next year.