Mixed day for India at French Open qualifiers as Sumit Nagal bows out

Top-ranked Indian Sumit Nagal lost to Dustin Brown in the first round of the French Open qualifiers while Prajnesh Gunneswaran advanced.

By Naveen Peter

Indian tennis players at the French Open qualifiers had a mixed day as Sumit Nagal failed to get past his first hurdle while Prajnesh Gunneswaran moved a step closer to making it to the main draw on Monday.

The top-ranked Indian in the competition, Sumit Nagal, came up short against Germany’s seasoned campaigner Dustin Brown - losing the match in straight sets 6-7 (4), 5-7. Prajnesh Gunneswaran, meanwhile, recorded a comfortable 6-3, 6-1 win over Turkey’s Cem Ilkel.

Coming into the French Open qualifiers after a commendable show at the US Open, where he became the first Indian in seven years to win a Grand Slam’s main draw match, Sumit Nagal was hoping to build on the momentum.

Playing on his favourite surface, Nagal looked at ease against the experienced Dustin Brown and took the fight to the German by breaking him in his opening serve.

Dustin Brown banked on his experience to beat Sumit Nagal in the opening round of their French Open qualifiers.

With Brown, who famously beat Rafael Nadal in the second round at Wimbledon in 2015, struggling with his serves, Nagal chose to target his opponent’s second serves to hold onto the lead.

But a momentary lapse in concentration saw Sumit Nagal concede the eighth game. That proved to be the turning point in the match as Brown went on to take the opening set in the tie-breaker in just under an hour

The second set was largely a slugfest with both players struggling to hold to their serves and traded service breaks.

While Brown continued to grapple with his serves, Nagal squandered opportunities to wrap up the set. The German consequently sealed the match with a service hold on the 12th.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran sails through

Meanwhile, world No. 141 Prajnesh Gunneswaran faced no such trouble as he romped home to a win in the opening round of his French Open qualifiers.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran won his opening round of his French Open qualifiers.

Though the 25-year-old Cem Ilkel started with a break in the second game to go 2-0 up against an opponent ranked 65 places above him, Gunneswaran remained unfazed.

Breaking Ilkel in the fifth to draw level, the Indian won the next four games to take the opening set in just about 40 minutes.

The second set was all about Gunneswaran as he won the opening five games before wrapping up the match with some quality tennis.

The 30-year-old Gunneswaran will take on Aleksandar Vukic of Australia in the second round of the qualifiers.

Ramkumar Ramanathan bows out

Meanwhile, Ramkumar Ramanathan made his exit from the French Open qualifiers after he went down to Frenchman Tristan Lamasine.

Ramanathan, who was playing his first match post the COVID-19 break, started well in the first-round match to keep up with his opponent in the early exchanges. 

But just when the opening set looked destined for a tie-breaker, the Indian gave away a crucial break in the 11th game. It allowed Lamasine to close the set. 

The Frenchman took the momentum in the second set and Ramanathan eventually lost to the local hope 7-5, 6-2.