Top Seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran and 16th seed Sasikumar Mukund moved into the semifinals of the Chennai Open Challenger 80 Tennis being held at the SDAT Tennis Stadium, Nungambakkam, Chennai in contrasting style. Prajnesh showed tremendous maturity and calmness right through the match. His serves landed deep felicitating deep returns which he finished with flourishing forehands.  James also stuck to his task gamely venturing to the net now and then with mixed results.  He was down two break points in the third game but managed to hold serve.  In the ninth game he was serving 40-15 when he missed an easy point and followed it up with a double fault making the score deuce.  Prajnesh returned well to force an error.  James saved the point with an excellent serve.  Once again Prajnesh hit a forcing return and kept the advantage in the rally to get another breakpoint.  James succumbed to the pressure and his serve was broken.  Advantage was with Prajnesh as he served for the set.  He led 40-15 and inexplicably served a double fault.  On the next point Prajnesh made no mistake with his forehand after his deep serve had set up the point for him.  The day was hot and Duckworth who had played a long match the previous day was beginning to feel the strain.  He was down 0-4 before he held serve twice and the score was 5-2.  Prajnesh was serving for the match when once again uncharacteristically he double faulted twice to concede the game.  In the next game, there was a long rally on the first point.  Prajnesh dominated the rally moving his opponent to all parts of the court and finally winning the point.  Two points later Duckworth served a double fault to give Prajnesh two match points.  James managed to save the first but faultered on the next to give Prajnesh a creditable win. 

Mukund Sasikumar displayed his heroic qualities for the second day in a row.  Yesterday he had upset the 3rd seed Safwat Mohamed with whom he seemed to have trained at Vienna.  Against Brydan Klein of Great Britain, Mukund ran up a 4-1 lead and was in command.  His percentage of first serve was good and his second serve had a bite which was previously not there.  In the sixth game he was down a breakpoint when he served a double fault.  He recouped to hold serve with a resounding ace to go up 5-1 and then completed the formality of winning the first set 6-2.  In the second set Mukund broke Brydan’s serve in the very first game on the seventh deuce and then held serve with ease to lead 2-0.  Brydan had suffered a long match the previous day and his sluggish movements seemed to suggest that the match over but it was not.  Brydan came back to win the next three games.  He served three aces, mixed up the slices and the topspin on both flanks and moved into volley which upset Mukund’s rhythm.  In the sixth game Mukund served three aces and leveled the score 3 all. Brydan who seemed to have found his second wind was playing positively to hold his serve and break Mukund once again to lead 5-4.  Brydan then served, led 40-15 hand had two set points.  Mukund saved the first with a flat forehand return and Brydan double faulted on the next to squander the advantage.  Fortunately he kept up his spirit to hold on and win the game and set 6-3.  The match was level.   In the decisive third set both player played their best, serving aces at will and held their service games till 6 all.  Mukund served twelve aces in all while Brydan served seven of which three were served continuously to hold serve in the sixth game.  In the eleventh game Mukund was a breakpoint down but ended the ensuing rally with a brilliant forehand down the line which found the corner.  In the tiebreak Mukund moved ahead straight away and led 3-0.  A brilliant backhand down the line by Mukund to end a fast paced rally was the shot of the day.  There were two more brilliant winners that flowed from Mukund’s racquet one a scintillating return which had his opponent down on his knees.  He won the tiebreak 7-3 to earn a place in the semifinals.  Mukund with his calm approach and fluent stroke play makes him be a strong contender. 

Two other semifinals also went the distance.   The second seeded Corentin Moutet faced a strong challenge from Nicola Kuhn of Spain the tenth seed.  The first set was topsy turvy with Corentin leading 2-0, Nicola then leading 4-2 and Corentin then leveling the score 4 all.  Two double faults in the eleventh game and Corentine was down a break.  Nicola made no mistake as he held his serve comfortably to take the first set 7-5. In spite of three double faults, Corentin held serve in the first game of the second set.  He then led 4-3.  In the eighth game he returned well to win four points in a row to break serve and led 5-3.  He then held serve to love to win the second set and level the match.  Corentin displayed a wonderful all-round game and excellent court-craft.  In the third set Corentin used the drop-shot to good effect and finally won the test of endurance winning the third set 6-4.  He will now meet Mukund Sasikumar in the semifinals.

A little later, the unseed Andrew Harris of Australia came back from behind to upset the fifth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain in three sets.  Andrew who needed two tiebreak sets to win the previous day was hardly in the match as Alejandro won the first set 6-1 in 14 minutes.  In the second set the players shared a break and then held serve five times to level scores at 6 all.  Andrew who possesses a single hand back hand let 6-3 in the tiebreak Alejandro fought back with brilliant stroke play to level 6 all.  At this crucial juncture Andrew played with determination to capture the next two points and the set.  The loosing of the second set and the heat affected Alejandro in the third set.  Andrew let 3-0 and went on to win the set 6-2.  He will now face Prajnesh in the semifinals.

The two semifinals provided entertaining doubles tennis.  The Australian pair of Matt Reid and Luke Saville got the better of Andre Goransson and Harri Heliovaara in straight sets, while the Italian pair of Gianluco Mager and Andrea Pellegrino was too good for Tomislav Draganja and Tsung-Hua Yang.

The semifinals will start tomorrow at 11 a.m. and the doubles final at 4 p.m. Entry to witness the matches is free.

Men’s Singles Main Draw – Quarterfinals

[1] Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND) Bt. [7] James Duckworth (AUS) 6-4, 6-3
Andrew Harris (AUS) vs [5] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-2
[16] Sasikumar Mukund (IND) Bt. Brydan Klein (GBR) 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(3)

[2] Corentin Moutet (FRA) Bt. [10] Nicola Kuhn (ESP) 5-7, 6-3, 6-4

Men’s Doubles Main Draw – Semifinals

[1] Matt Reid (AUS) / Luke Saville (AUS) Bt. [4] Andre Goransson (SWE) / Harri Heliovaara (FIN) 6-4, 6-3

Gianluco Mager (ITA) / Andrea Pellegrino (ITA) Bt. [2] Tomislav Draganja (CRO) / Tsung-Hua Yang (TPE) 6-0, 6-4