Tata Open Maharashtra: Ram, Yuki advance; heartbreak for Prajnesh | Tennis News – Times of India

PUNE: Ramkumar Ramanathan and Yuki Bhambri scored contrasting wins but Prajnesh Gunneswaran suffered an agonising loss in the qualifying first round at the Tata Open Maharashtra here on Saturday.
Ramkumar, a wildcard entrant, staged a brilliant comeback to oust 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 meeting against Italian Mattia Bellucci at the ATP 250 Series event.
Bhambri, playing with a protected ranking of 127, knocked out Diego Hidalgo of Ecuador 6-2, 6-2 for a clash against Elias Ymer of Sweden.
Gunneswaran, on the other hand, battled for two hours and 21 minutes only to end up with a 6-7, 6-3, 5-7 loss against German fourth seed Maximilian Marterer.
Sidharth Rawat, who made the draw as an alternate after American Christopher Eubanks pulled out citing respiratory problems, went down 1-6, 7-6 (4), 1-6 to Zdenek Kolar of the Czech Republic.
Aditya Vishal Balsekar, another wildcard, was overwhelmed 3-6, 0-6 by Flavio Cobolli of Italy.
Ramkumar, who has slipped in rankings for 435 on the ATP Tour, seemed almost done and dusted when the 21-year-old Virtanen, world ranked 175, served for the match at 5-4 in the second set.
But the Chennai lad found an extra gear out against all odds to break back and even the scores.
“It was very tough to start with, because I was playing my first match in almost two, three weeks. So it was very tough for me to find the rhythm in the start,” the 28-year-old said.
“All I did was to just keep fighting. The game I broke (at 4-5)I was just fighting and making a lot of shots, just competing very hard.
“And even after that game, I thought things were going to be tight but was happy to get the other break at 6-5. That was a very vital game, I just tried to make a lot of balls in, stay a little bit back because he was really going for his shots.”
Gunneswaran, who had lost both his previous two matches against Marterer, saved two match points but a misfiring first serve meant he could not wriggle out of the tight spot and the German eventually converted the third with a forehand winner.
“I feel that my (first serve) percentage dropped a lot (in the third set). And when you give too many second serves, there’s always a risk that maybe he plays a couple of good points,” the southpaw said.
“Unfortunately, that happened. In both the match points, he missed early, and he gave me a chance to kind of come back. I didn’t use that.
“So I would say given the circumstances I played well. But in pressure points, I don’t think I played well enough.”

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