Coming as it did just a day after India’s 5-0 victory against Chinese Taipei, the air around the start of the Shriram Capital-P.L. Reddy Memorial ATP Challenger tournament was filled with Davis Cup talk.
With six of the seven players from the Cup squad — including three who actually played — touching down in the city, it was understandable who the star attractions were.
Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhambri went around answering a slew of questions after their practice session under the afternoon sun.
Saketh Myneni, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and R. Ramkumar all had their training sessions with the gathered media personnel watching keenly as the tournament warmed up to a promising second day which starts with the much awaited clash between Devvarman and Ramkumar on Centre Court.
For the other Indians, however, it was business as usual on day one. Sanam Singh and Prajnesh Gunneswaran qualified for the 32-player main draw, which will feature eight Indians.
Sanam thrashed Slovakia’s Marek Semjan 6-2, 6-2 while Prajnesh had a much tougher time getting past 17-year-old Sasi Kumar Mukund.
The latter has shown a lot of promise in the past two days; on Sunday, he shocked top seed Hiroki Kondo of Japan, the World No. 286, in straight sets in the second qualifying round. Then he stretched the experienced Prajnesh for the most part of two sets before falling 7-6(4), 6-3.
“He played much better than I expected him to,” Prajnesh said. “Even before the match I told myself not to underestimate him.”
There was just the one main draw singles match scheduled on Monday. Spaniards Jordi Samper-Montana and Adrian Menendez-Maceiras fought hard for a little over two hours before the former came through 6-4, 7-6(9).
First round: Singles: Jordi Samper-Montana (Esp) bt Adrian Menendez-Maceiras (Esp) 6-4, 7-6 (9). Doubles: Thomas Fabbiano (Ita) & Agustin Velotti (Arg) bt Prajnesh Gunneswaran & Mohit Mayur 2-6, 6-2, 10-5.
Qualifying: Final round: Sanam Singh bt Marek Semjan (Svk) 6-2, 6-2; Victor Baluda (Rus) bt Richard Becker (Ger) 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(4); Michael Venus (Nzl) bt Karunuday Singh 6-2, 6-1; Prajnesh bt Sasi Kumar Mukund 7-6 (4), 6-3.