BENGALURU: Despite the presence of a few successful doubles players, Purav Raja’s stock has risen significantly in recent years. Currently 93rd in ATP doubles ranking, he has reached six finals this year on the Challenger Tour. But he’s won only two: Istanbul Challenger and Wolffkran Open.
On Friday, it was yet another final for Raja, who was partnering Slovenian Antonio Sancic in Bengaluru Open. But they were bested 7-6 (3), 6-3 by Max Purcell and Luke Seville in an hour-and-21-minute battle. Four double faults and failing against some good returns from the Aussie pair cost them, apart from lack of coordination at times.“I think making another final is important. Yes, we’d have liked to win, but these things happen in tennis. We have to accept that. There are many things the two of us have to work on to get into full sync,” said Raja.
While Raja has done fairly well on Challenger Tour, his performance in ATP World Tour events has been disappointing. Out of 14 ATP 250 tournaments, he has made first-round exits ten times, with different partners. Apart from a semifinal in Atlanta Open (ATP 250), he lost a few close ties at World Tour events, including Grand Slams.
“What can I say? It’s been unfortunate. If you lose a match at 9-11, you know you are doing things right. But it’s painful to lose. When I knew I could go far, I was left with losing ranking points. I should have been within the top-50. But here I am, close to being out of 100,” the 32-year-old said. “A player of my level should be playing on World Tour regularly. But those games have cost me a fair number of ranking points. I have to gain them back and start rebuilding again.”
He will play one more tournament — Pune Challenger — to finish off the year and then aim for the top 50 in the next, starting with Maharashtra Open. “I’ve played almost 30 matches in the last two months. There was travelling involved. It takes a toll on the body. I need proper rest for a few days before I start planning my next year. Let’s see how my ranking is and if I can make it to Australian Open’s main draw,” said Raja, who reached his career-best 52 last year.
All India singles final
Saketh Myneni will face Prajnesh Gunneswaran in the final on Saturday. Myneni beat Kazakhstan’s Aleksandr Nedovyesov 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, while Prajnesh coasted past Canada’s Brayden Schnur 6-4, 6-1 to enter his third singles final of the year. With his win, Prajnesh ensured that he will be India’s top-ranked singles player coming Monday, apart from achieving his career-best rank.
Results (Indians unless specified): Singles (semifinals): Saketh Myneni (Wild card) bt Aleksandr Nedovyesov (KAZ) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, Prajnesh Gunneswaran (x4) bt Brayden Schnur (CAN) 6-4, 6-1. Doubles (final): Max Purcell & Luke Seville (AUS) bt Purav Raja & Antonio Sancic (CRO, x2) 7-6 (3), 6-3.