Tennis: Sasikumar Mukund digs deep to oust Kavcic

Tennis: Sasikumar Mukund digs deep to oust Kavcic

Sasikumar Mukund of India in action and won against Biaz Kavcic of SLO during the 1at round of the Bengaluru Open 2020 at KSLTA courts in Bengauru. (DH Photo)

Sasikumar Mukund conquered his personal demons and his opponent as the Indian ousted Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia in the opening round of the Bengaluru Open Challenger at the KSLTA Courts on Monday.

Mukund, ranked 289, had to dig deep to knock out the Slovenian, once top seed at this tournament, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. 

In his quarterfinal run in Bengaluru back in 2018, Mukund had prevailed over the same opponent but there looked little chance of the same result early on, as he lost the first four games. Though he clawed his way back with a break but struggled to hold his serve and surrendered the opening set meekly. The 23-year-old. however, slowly found his way back and broke his opponent thrice in the second, against losing his serve twice, to take the second. 

Mukund then converted both his breakpoints in the third, producing a game of more positive tennis after his first break, and though broken back once, he was able to serve out the match.

But in keeping with the script, he twice squandered match points before two unforced errors from Kavcic gave him the match.

It was also a full circle for the Indian as his last match at the centre court ended with him retiring in the quarterfinals of the same event against Prajnesh Gunneswaran due to back spasm.

“I honestly don’t think I deserve the win today,” said Mukund after the match. “Going through a confusing space in my career. I’m either too confident or not confident at all. So it’s been many things in my head.”

The Chennai-born player started off the last season with a strong show at the Chennai Challenger with a semifinal run but struggled to sustain the form through the rest of the year, making just two quarterfinals and one final on the ATP Tour in his 33-week calendar. Immediately after his last-four run in Chennai, Mukund went nine straight Challengers without going beyond the second round.

A philosophical Mukund believed while his experience on the court was less than ideal, it was a learning experience.

“Dealing with expectations and being impatient, I need to wait for things to work out. Success may come sooner or later and I have to accept that. Last one year was a very different life, many new experiences. I’m always travelling and hardly meet friends so life revolves around tennis, so my highs and lows are always tennis. Great one year, maybe not on the ranking but I’m a better person. My outlook towards life was changing,” he said. 

Meanwhile, fellow Indian Saketh Myneni also advanced with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Aslan Karatsev of Russia. A break in each set, on the sixth game in the first and seventh in the second, clinched the tie for the lanky Indian who started off slowly.

After saving three break points in his first couple of service games, Myneni varied his serves and kept his opponent guessing to turn the match in his favour.

Results (I round): Blaz Kavcic (Slo) lt to Sasikumar Mukund (Ind) 6-2, 3-6, 4-6; SD Prajwal Dev (Ind) lt to Khumoyun Sultanov (Uzb) 2-6, 1-6; Karim-Mohammed Maamoun (Egy) lt to Federico Ferreira Silva (Por) 1-6, 6-3, 0-6; Laurent Lokoli (Fra) bt Adam Pavlasek (Cze) 6-3, 7-6(4); Aslan Karatsev (Rus) lt to Saketh Myneni (Ind) 3-6, 3-6; Vaclav Safranek (Cze) bt Fabrizio Ornago (Ita) 7-6(5), 7-5; Arjun Khade (Ind) lt to Malek Jaziri (Tun) 2-6, 6(5)-7; Vladyslav Orlov bt Suraj Prabodh 6-2, 6-2; Filippo Baldi (Ita) bt Evgeny Karlovskiy (Rus) 6-2, 7-5; Niki Poonacha (Ind) bt Adil Kalyanpur (Ind) 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(4); Matthew Ebden (Aus) bt Tsung-Hua Yang (Tpe) 6-0, 4-6, 7-6(2); Sidharth Rawat (Ind) bt Borna Gojo (Cro) 3-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(3).

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