Bengaluru: As many as four Indians figure in the last-eight stage of the ongoing $150,000 Bengaluru Open ATP Challenger. In the pre-quarterfinal fixtures played at the KSLTA here on Wednesday (November 14), Sasi Kumar Mukund, playing his fourth round in as many days (entered as a qualifier), sent home the fancied Slovenian, Blaz Kavcic after the latter threw in the towel, trailing by a set and down 1-3 in the second set.

Defending champion Sumit Nagal was a 6-3, 7-6 (4) victor over James Ward of Great Britain while Saketh Myneni (pictured above) quelled the challenge of giant killer Youssef Hossam 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 to advance to the quarter-finals.

Joining the trio was fourth seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran who came back from the brink of defeat against qualifier Sebastian Fanswelow of Germany before prevailing 4-6, 6-4, 7-5. Incidentally, Prajnesh is the only seed left in the fray. 

Brayden Schnur of Canada sidelined sixth seed Quentin Halys of France 6-4, 7-6 (3) while Kazak Aleksandr Nedovyesov ousted fifth seed Marc Polsman of Canada in straight sets 6-2, 6-4.

In an interesting duel, after both the players had traded a set each with a similar score-line of 6-4 with Sebastian winning the first, Prajnesh, was trailing 3-5 with Sebastian just a match point away from victory.

The 26-year-old Indian who is currently ranked 144th, did not just come back but went on to break his serve and won the next three games on a trot with a break in the 11th game and served out to win the set 7-5 and thus the match.

Meanwhile, Sasi Kumar Mukund may be just 21 years old but uses sagely words while talking about his game and life in general, thanks to the lessons learnt from the arduous life on the Tour.

The Chennai born, Hyderabad-based lad did not have any plans against a better ranked opponent. After both the players held their respective serves in the first five games, it was Kavcic who took advantage of an error-prone Mukund to achieve the first break in the sixth game and went 4-2 up.

However, with his knee giving a problem, Kavcic lost his serve in the ninth game, the set was decided on a tie-break which Mukund pocketed 7-2 and even broke his rival’s serve in the first game of the next set and retired after four games.

Mukund who took to tennis at a very early age thought of making tennis his career when he was barely eight, was hitherto playing on the Futures Tour and achieved a reasonable success last year.

However, training with his new coach in Austria, gave a new outlook to his game as he graduated to Challenger Tour this year.

“Rankings do not matter if you are not in the top 150 on ATP. The sooner you start aiming towards that, the better and hence the decision to play on the Challenger Tour,” said the soft spoken player.

Talking about his preparation for the tougher tour, Mukund said that he was working on two aspects.

“Firstly, we have to prepare mentally and physically strong to cope up with the so called lonely life on the Tour and then work on the various aspects of the game,” said Mukund who clashes with Prajnesh in the quarter-final.

Results (Pre-quarterfinals) (Prefix denotes seeding)

Q-Sasi Kumar Mukund (IND) bt Blaz Kavcic (SLO) 7-6 (2), 3-1 (Retd)

WC-Sumit Nagal (IND) bt James Ward (GBR) 6-3, 7-6 (4)

4-Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND) bt Q-Sebastian Fanselow (GER) 4-6, 6-4, 7-5

WC-Saketh Myneni (IND) bt Q-Youssef Hossam (EGY) 6-1, 3-6, 6-1

Brayden Schnur (CAN) bt 6-Quentin Halys (FRA) 6-4, 7-6 (3)

Aleksandr Nedovyesov (KAZ) bt 5-Marc Polsman (CAN) 6-2, 6-4

Cem Ilkel (TUR) bt LL-Zizou Bergs (BEL) 7-5, 6-3

Doubles (Quarter-finals)

Arjun Kadhe (IND) Vs. Saketh Myneni (IND) bt WC-SD Prajwal Dev (IND) / Niki Poonacha (IND) 6-3, 7-6 (5)

Cheng-Peng Hsieh (TPE) / Tsung-Hua Yang (TPE) bt Andrej Martin (SVK) / Hans Podlipnik-Castillo (CHI) 4-6, 6-2, 10-2

Quarter-final line-up (singles) 2 PM onwards on Thursday

Q-Sasi Kumar Mukund (IND) Vs 4-Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND)

WC-Saketh Myneni (IND) Vs WC-Sumit Nagal (IND)

Brayden Schnur (CAN) Vs Cem Ilkel (TUR)

Aleksandr Nedovyesov (KAZ) Vs D Masur (GER) or F Ferreira Silva (POR)