French Open 2018 qualifying: Tough challenge for Sumit Nagal; Ramanathan Ramkumar, Prajnesh Gunneswaran face unseeded opponents
On Monday, the qualifying rounds for the French Open get underway at Roland Garros. While Yuki Bhambri, India's top-ranked player in men's singles, has already got a direct entry, three other Indians, Ramkumar Ramanathan, Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Sumit Nagal, will be fighting for a spot in the main draw of the men’s singles.
Sumit Nagal will face a tough challenge in the very first round of the qualifiers as he has been drawn to meet 10th seed Martin Klizan. The 117-ranked Slovakian is coming on the back off a good run on clay having reached the quarter-finals at both Munich and Barcelona.
He pulled off some big wins, beating Novak Djokovic and Feliciano Lopez before going down to eventual winner Rafael Nadal in Barcelona. On the other hand, the Indian has had a rough ride on clay recently. Just two weeks back, Nagal lost in the first round at the ATP Challenger in Braga, Portugal.
Ramanathan, who moved up three spots to 121st in the ATP rankings this week, is seeded 12th in the qualifiers. He will be up against Great Britain’s Jay Clarke, who is currently ranked 225 in the world, in the first round. The 23-year-old Indian met Clarke at the Bengaluru Challenger in November last year where he lost 7-6(3), 2-6, 4-6 in a tough three-setter.
The 28-year-old Prajnesh, who is currently ranked 183rd in the world, will take on Italy’s Salvatore Caruso on Monday. This will be the first time the two meet on the ATP tour. Prajnesh will be confident of securing a victory, having broken into the top 200 after his first title on the ATP Challenger circuit when he lifted the Kunming Open title in Anning, China on clay.
Meanwhile, in women's singles, the qualifying rounds for which get underway on Tuesday, India's only representative will be Ankita Raina. The youngster has been enjoying a superb run of form which has resulted in a rise in the World Rankings. and it will be interesting to see how she fares in Roland Garros.