Fresh from his ITF victory, and on the back of his doubles victory here in the Bengaluru Open last month, Arjun Kadhe begins as a firm favourite in both the men’s singles and doubles event of the SKME ITF Open, the main draw of which, begins at the KSLTA Stadium here on Tuesday.
While the 28-year-old is seeded fifth in the singles, he heads the seedings in the doubles while pairing with Englishman Julian Cash. The duo had achieved tremendous success at the collegiate level and became the first doubles team in Oklahoma State University’s history to achieve the top spot in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Rankings,
Mukund Sasikumar, who has had a see-saw season thus far, has been given the top billing while runners-up last week Sidharth Rawat has been seeded second in the singles draw.
Austrian Luca Krainer, who has been a multiple-time finalist on the ITF World Tour events, has been seeded third while the talented Manish Sureshkumar is seeded fourth. Kadhe (No.5), Robert Strombachs of Germany (No.6), Niki Poonacha (No.7) and Cash (No.8) bring up the rear of the seeded players’ list. As many as 21 Indians figure in the main draw of 32.
“I have had a great start to the season reaching the final of a challenger in January. That gave me a lot of confidence but unfortunately, I could not carry the run into the following week. I was expecting a good run in the Indian swing in Pune and Bengaluru but didn’t perform up to the level that I was capable of,” said Sasikumar who forfeited his first-round match last week in the final set.
“It’s just three months into the season and I am planning to build a good run until the first half of the season,” said Sasikumar who will be aiming for his fifth ITF Tour title.
Also adding sheen to the doubles event will be Yuki Bhambri, a member of the Indian Davis Cup team that won against Denmark recently, and reserve player Saketh Myneni. The duo are on a high after having won the ITF doubles title last week.
Meanwhile, local lads Rishi Reddy and Adil Kalyanpur entered the main draw lodging contrasting wins in the final round of qualifying. While Rishi outplayed Ranjeet Virali Murugesan 6-4, 6-1, Adil dropped a set against Lohithaksha Bathrinath before prevailing 6-1, 2-6, 10-8. Adil faces Krainer while Rishi meets Kadhe in their respective opening matches.
Men’s singles (final qualifying round): 3-Alexis Canter (GBR) bt 13-Karan Singh (IND) 6-3, 7-6(4); 5-Digvijay Pratap Singh (IND) bt 11-Siddharth Vishwakarma (IND) 6-2, 7-6(3); 1-Dev Javia (IND) bt Bharath Nishok Kumaran (IND) 6-3, 6-1; 7-Adil Kalyanpur (IND) bt 12-Lohithaksha Bathrinath (IND) 6-1, 2-6, 10-8; 6-Rishi Reddy (IND) bt 14-Ranjeet Virali Murugesan (IND) 6-4, 6-1; 2-Daisuke Sumizawa (JPN) bt Tushar Madan (IND) 6-3, 6-2; 4-Ishaque Iqbal (IND) bt 15-Kent Tagashira (JPN) 6-2, 6-1; 8-Paras Dahiya (IND) bt 9-Suraj Prabodh (IND) 6-1, 6-0.