In a re-match of the 2018 edition, Mukund Sasikumar sent Slovenian Blaz Kavcic home with a comeback 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win to advance to the pre-quarterfinals of the $162,500 Bengaluru Open Challenger event at the KSLTA here on Monday.
Also advancing to the second round was last season's runner-up Saketh Myneni, who scripted a clinical 6-3, 6-3 win over his Russian rival Aslan Karatsev.
Kavcic, who is ranked slightly higher than Mukund at 275, began in the right earnest and looked set for an easy victory as he raced to a 4-0 lead. However, the Indian showed a semblance of a comeback, winning the next two games but it lasted just for a while as he committed too many unforced errors.
"I don't know what was going on in my mind. I was trying too many things," Mukund said after the match.
Both the players began breaking each other in the second set and repeated the pattern two games later to be tied at 3-3. The 23-year-old then achieved the crucial break in the seventh game to surge ahead as Kavcic in a bid to adopt an aggressive approach could not control his game and lost the set without winning any more game.
In the decider, Mukund started off with a break in the very first game and held the advantage until the sixth which he lost. Mukund, who has been fighting a mental battle as he later accepted, managed to break once again in the ninth game and served out for the match.
"I don't think I deserved to win with the kind of game I played. He (Kavcic) was playing really well and I think he too was in a similar spot like me in the second and third set," said Mukund.
In a contrasting encounter, Myneni just needed just one break to grab the opening set 6-3. The second set saw the players holding their serves until the sixth game as Myneni won the rest of the games with breaks in the seventh and ninth to emerge victorious.