PUNE: India had mixed fortunes on the first day of main draw action in the Tata Open Maharashtra here with Yuki Bhambri returning from two years of injury layoff with a brilliant win while there was a setback for the hosts as wildcard Prajnesh Gunnerswaran went down to fifth seed Daniel Altamaier of Germany in straight sets on Monday.
Bhambri registered a sensational win over Jozef Kovalik of Slovakia in the men's singles opening round of the 2022 Tata Open Maharashtra at the Balewadi Stadium, here. The 29-year-old Indian, who had started directly into the main draw at South Asia's only ATP 250, secured a 6-7 (10), 6-2, 7-5 win in the opening match.
Prajnesh, one of the four Indians to get a wildcard in this event, put up a fight in the first set as he lost it in tie-breaker and eventually went out 7-6(5), 6-2 in a Round of 32 encounter.
Things started well for India despite Bhambri losing the first set. After losing the hard-fought first set, the former junior world number one, who made a comeback into the international circuit recently after a two-year break due to injury, started the second with a 2-0 lead and looked in good touch. He didn't let the momentum shift away before bagging the set easily and levelling the scores.
"Letting the first game slip was a bit disappointing. Sat down, got back but because it is so close and felt so comfortable that gave me the confidence to keep attacking which helped me in the second set in the end," Bhambri said after the match.
In the decider, the Delhi-born player converted a breakpoint to take the scores at 3-3 and then added one more set point to keep himself ahead in the game. Though the 29-year-old Slovakian tried his best to make a comeback into the contest, Bhambri held his nerves and clinched the decider to advance into the second round. He will next take on the winner of the match between compatriot Ramkumar Ramanathan and eighth-seed Stefano Travaglia of Italy.
Earlier, France's Quentin Halys sent World No. 82 Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania packing with a stunning 6-1, 6-2 win. The World No. 141 Halys looked quite confident against the higher-ranked opponent as he hardly gave any opportunity to Berankis.
In the other Round-of-32 match, former World No. 39 Moldovan Radu Albot faced a tough challenge from Federico Gaio of Italy in the second set but managed to sail through with a 6-2, 7-6(3) victory in the end.
Meanwhile, the top-seeded Australian pair of Like Saville and John-Patrick Smith lived up to the expectations as it defeated Stefano Travaglia and Bernabe Zapata Miralles in straight sets 6-1, 6-4. In the other doubles opening round match, the French duo of Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul outclassed the third-seeded pair of Szymon Walkow and Jan Zielinski 6-3, 7-6(5) to move into the Last-8 stage.
In the singles qualifying matches played on Monday, Czech Republic's Vita Kopriva stunned Turkish player Altug Celikbilek with a hard-fought 6-7(4), 6-3, 7-5 win and made his way into the main draw.
Swedish player Elias Ymer also secured an entry into the main draw with an easy 6-4, 6-4 win over Australian Marc Polmans. British Jay Clarke and Gian Marco Moroni of Australia were the other two players, who emerged victorious in the final qualifying round and entered the main draw.