Sumit Nagal, Prajnesh Gunneswaran out of Biella ATP Challenger

Both Nagal and Gunneswaran lost their respective first-round singles matches in straight sets.

By Utathya Nag

Indian tennis players Sumit Nagal and Prajnesh Gunneswaran exited the ATP Challenger Biella clay court tournament in Italy after first-round singles losses to Blaz Kavcic and Maxime Cressy, respectively.

Nagal, seeded third in the event, lost 6-7 (4-7), 4-6 to his unseeded Slovenian opponent while seventh-seed Gunneswaran suffered an almost identical 6-7 (5-7), 4-6 defeat.

Sumit Nagal set the tone of his match in the early stages, winning the first game of the first set 40-0 courtesy some powerful serves. The Indian then followed it up by pushing the Slovenian hard, dictating long rallies with some fine returns from the baseline in the second game.

Kavcic managed to save two break points but Nagal eventually broke him to race to a 2-0 lead.

Sumit Nagal is the top-ranked Indian singles tennis player.

The Slovenian, however, rallied back to break Nagal in the fifth game. The Indian responded, breaking Kavcic again in the sixth but failed to hold his serve in the seventh as the world No. 298 Slovenian finally erased the deficit and levelled up the set at 4-4.

The two players traded serves for the next four games, forcing a tie-breaker for the first set. In the first to seven points tie-breaker, Nagal squandered a 4-1 lead to lose the shootout 7-4 and consequently the set 7-6.

Looking to mount a comeback in the second set, Nagal broke Kavcic in the third game. But just like he had done in the first set, conceded his early advantage after being broken in the eighth

The dropped serve sealed the fate of the match as Kavcic held his serve in the ninth and broke the Indian again in the 10th game to wrap up the second set 6-4.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran misses out

Gunneswaran, meanwhile, had a similarly disappointing day at office losing the first set via tie-breaker like Nagal.

Like Nagal, Prajnesh Gunneswaran lost the first set via tie-breaker and couldn’t bounce back in the second set.

In a closely-fought second set, Gunneswaran faltered with his serve in the all-important ninth game against the world No. 159 Cressy to lose the match.

It has been a disappointing couple of weeks for both Indian tennis players. Nagal failed to make it to the French Open main draw after losing his first-round singles qualifier while Gunneswaran’s charge ended in the second round.

India’s doubles hopes in action on Tuesday

With the singles representatives out, the Indian challenge at the ATP Challenger event now rests on N Sriram Balaji and Ramkumar Ramanathan.

Balaji and his Swiss partner Luca Margaroli, seeded third in doubles, face Argentina’s Facundo Bagnis and Peru’s Sergio Galdos in their first-round doubles clash on Tuesday.

The fourth-seeded team of Ramanathan and Spain’s Sergio Gornes, meanwhile, will square off against the all-Italian duo of Andrea Pellegrino and Gian Marco Moroni on the same day.