BENGALURU: “How’s the body holding?” Saketh Myneni is asked this question after every match he wins. On Monday, when he won his first-round match in the Bengaluru Open ATP Challenger meet against Aslan Karatsev of Russia 6-3, 6-3, he was expecting questions on similar lines. That’s how it has been for Myneni in the last few years.
Every time he thought he had hit a purple patch, injuries cut his run short. Before the last edition of the Bengaluru Open in November 2018, Myneni was out with a foot injury. He recovered and went on to play the final but could not build on it as he had to withdraw from the 2019 Maharashtra Open in the first round due to another leg injury.
These injuries not only had an impact on his game but also forced him to rethink and play only in select tournaments. He had to shelve plans of playing on grass and clay. Last season, of the 19 events he played, 13 were on hard courts. Now, he wants to focus on that surface.“It’s not easy to get the rhythm back. A lot of things have to fall in place. You need your confidence back, stay healthy and manage your schedule. Durability wise, I probably have to think about playing just doubles. But I haven’t taken that route yet. It will depend on how my body reacts to the workload,” said the 32-year-old.
“I don’t look too far ahead as I don’t know if I will be fully fit. Since 2013, I have had plans of playing 20-25 events a season. But it hasn’t happened. So that remains the target for this year.”Myneni, whose singles ranking has plummeted to 427, managed a win in his first match after two months. On the ATP Tour, this win came after five months. Myneni didn’t have a great start. His serves met with strong returns from Karatsev. He had to save a breakpoint in the first game. In the fifth, he saved two breakpoints. Eventually, six double faults from the Russian helped Myneni. He faces sixth seed Evgeny Donskoy of Russia next.
“I am happy that I won a match. I haven’t played a lot of tennis in the last few months but have been practising a lot and working on my fitness. Conditions were difficult and Aslan was returning well, so I had to change plans,” said Myneni.“I am not even close to what I want to be. But I think I played well. It’s been a slow process as I don’t want to rush things and pick up another injury. Now, it’s all about staying healthy and playing as much as possible.”