Principal Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Qualifiers Sunil Kumar Sipaeya and Tushar Liberhan fought hard before losing to their better-rated opponents in the first round contests stretching to three sets at the ONGC $50,000 ATP Challenger tennis tournament at the DLTA Complex here on Monday.

Sunil Kumar raised hopes of an Indian win at this big event, but wildcard Cecil Mamit of the Philippines raised his game in the final set to win 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) in two hours and 20 minutes. On the side court, Liberhan rallied against France’s Sebastien De Chaunac after losing the first set 2-6. But after taking the second 6-4, Liberhan failed to find his strokes as his returns went long on crucial rallies and de Chaunac raced through the decider 6-1.

German Rainer Schuttler, who was seeded fifth here, announced a late withdrawal. He is likely to be fined for such a late withdrawal. Another seeded player, the former Junior World No. 1 Kristian Pless of Denmark retired after hurting his right ankle. Earlier in the day, Navdeep Singh lost tamely to Jae Sung An of Korea 6-3, 6-3 while wildcard Prajnesh Guneshwaran lost to Russia’s Pavel Chekhov 7-6(4), 6-4.

The results: First round: Ivo Minar (Cze) bt Guillaume Couillard (Mon) 6-4, 6-4; Sebastian de Chaunac (Fra) bt Tushar Liberhan 6-2, 4-6, 6-1; Michail Elgin (Rus) bt Dmitry Vlasov (Rus) 6-4, 6-3; Pavel Chekhov (Rus) bt Prajnesh Gunneswaran 7-6(3), 6-4; Cecil Mamit (Phi) bt Sunil Kumar Sipaeya 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4); Benjamin Balleret (Mon) bt Adrian Menendez (Esp) 6-3, 6-3; Dieter Kindlmann (Ger) bt Kristian Pless (Den) 7-5, 6-7(11) retd.; Jae Sung An (Kor) bt Navdeep Singh 6-3, 6-3.

Doubles: First round: Xin Yuan Yu (Chn) and Shao Xuan Zeng (Chn) bt Karan Rastogi and Martin Slanar (Aut) 6-1, 7-5.

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