PUNE: Ramkumar Ramanathan and Yuki Bhambri won contrasting victories but Prajnesh Gunneswaran suffered a gruesome loss in the first qualifying round at the Tata Open Maharashtra here on Saturday.
Generic entrant Ramkumar staged a brilliant comeback to oust the sixth seed Otto Virtanen of Finland 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 in an hour and 53 minutes to advance to the second and final round against Italy’s Mattia Bellucci at the ATP 250 Series event.
Bhambri, playing with a protected rating of 127, knocked out Diego Hidalgo of Ecuador 6-2, 6-2 for a clash against Elias Ymer of Sweden.
Gunneswaran, meanwhile, fought for two hours and 21 minutes to find himself in a 6-7, 6-3, 5-7 loss to the German fourth seed. Maximilien Marterer.
Sidharth Rawatwho drew as a substitute after American Christopher Eubanks withdrew with respiratory problems, lost 1-6, 7-6(4), 1-6 to Czech Republic’s Zdenek Kolar.
Aditya Vishal Balsekar, another wild card, was passed 3-6, 0-6 by Italian Flavio Cobolli.
Ramkumar, who slipped in the rankings for 435 on the ATP Tour, looked almost done and dusted when the 21-year-old Virtanen, ranked 175 in the world, served for the match at 5-4 in the second set.
But the Chennai lad found some extra gear against the odds to pull back and level the scores.
“It was very difficult at the beginning, because I was playing my first match for almost two or three weeks, so it was very difficult for me to find the rhythm at the beginning,” said the 28-year-old.
“All I did was keep fighting. The game I broke (at 4-5) I was just fighting and shooting a lot, just competing really hard.
“And even after that game I thought things were going to be tight but I was happy to have the other break at 6-5. It was a very vital game, I just tried to get a lot of balls , to stay a bit because he was really going to get his shots.”
Gunneswaran, who had lost his previous two games to Marterer, saved two match points but a missed first serve prevented him from breaking the deadlock and the German eventually converted the third with a forehand winner.
“I feel like my (first-serve) percentage has gone down a lot (in the third set). And when you give too many second serves, there’s always a risk that he might play a few good points. “said the southpaw.
“Unfortunately it happened. In both match points he missed early, and he gave me a chance to sort of come back. I didn’t use it.
“So I would say given the circumstances I played well. But in the pressure points I don’t think I played well enough.”



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