Chennai: All eyes will be on India’s top singles player Prajnesh Gunneswaran in the Chennai Open ATP Challenger tennis tournament, which begins here today. The Chennai left-hander has been given top billing in the 64-player singles draw, which has a fair sprinkling of players in the top-200 and Indians eyeing ATP points.
India’s No. 2 Ramkumar Ramanathan will not be featuring in the event as he will playing in a Challenger event in Budapest, Hungary.
The 29-year old Gunneswaran is coming off a rather unsuccessful display against Italy in the Davis Cup Qualifier in Kolkata. He would be keen to make amends and head into the long season ahead possibly with a title.
Gunneswaran did well to qualify for the Australian Open before falling to Frances Tiafoe in the first round and with his ranking hovering close to the 100-mark, a title-winning run here would prove to be a huge boost after the disappointing losses in the Davis Cup tie.
The main challenge for the Indian Davis Cupper is expected to come from second-seed Corentin Moutet of France (ranked 143), the experienced Mohammed Safwat of Egypt (ranked 200), the number three seed and the fourth-seeded Italian Gianluca Mager (No. 224).
Australian James Duckworth and Korea’s Duckhee Lee, who are among the top eight seeds, will aim for a strong run here.
Gunneswaran has been handed a first-round bye and would open his campaign against the winner of the match between Daniel Nguyen (USA) and Daniel Altameir (Germany).
Two other Indians — Saketh Myneni (11) and Sasi Kumar Mukund (16) also figure among the seeds. Myneni, who qualified for the ATP Tour event in Pune last month, will hope to shrug off injury woes and put up a good performance here.
He got a first-round bye and faces the prospect of running into compatriot N Vijay Sundar Prashanth, who meets Spaniard Carlos Boluda-Purkiss in the opener.
Myneni has paired up with Arjun Khade in the doubles and the third-seeded duo will hope to aim for the top prize.
Sasikumar Mukund, who has shown a lot of improvement in the past year and taken his ranking to 292, is seeded 16th. He will aim for a good showing and some vital points. The talented, young Sumit Nagal, who has not been at his best in recent times, will be trying to snap up wins and points along with a few other Indians in the fray including the reigning national champion Siddharth Vishwakarma and former national junior champ Manish Suresh Kumar.
The singles winner gets $ 7,200 and 80 points while the runner-up receives $ 4,240 and 48 points.