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US Open 2016: Saketh Myneni qualifies for the main draw

Myneni became the first Indian to reach the main draw for the singles since 2013 and could face Novak Djokovic in the second round.

Saketh Myneni
Myneni could end up facing Novak Djokovic in the second round

There was midnight delight for Indian tennis fans on Friday as the country’s seasoned Davis Cupper Saketh Myneni won his final round of qualifying at the US Open to secure a main draw berth in the year's final Slam in New York. Myneni, ranked World No. 143, put up a commanding performance to thrash Serbia’s 200th ranked Pedja Krstin, 6-3, 6-0. The match lasted just 56 minutes.

Win marks Tour-level debut for Myneni

The win was of huge significance for the steadily-rising Myneni’s career. With this victory, he will not only appear in the main draw of a Major for the first time but this will also enable him to make his debut in a Tour-level event of any kind.

His earlier attempts at qualifying for Slams this year ended in disappointment with Saketh bowing out in the third round of the Australian Open, the second round of the French Open and the first round at the Wimbledon Championships.

The setbacks had made him the highest-ranked player so far not to play in any Tour-level event. On Friday, the 28-year-old changed all that on his sixth try at Slam qualifying.

The 26th seeded Myneni, an alumnus of the University of Alabama, had a large support group of fans cheering for him during this vital final round clash. Buoyed by their vociferous chants, the 2014 Asian Games gold medallist produced a dazzling display based on strong serves and solid returns that his 21-year-old opponent had no answer to.

They had met once before at the Eskisehir Challenger on hardcourts last year where the Indian had lost in straight sets. That experience definitely came in handy for Myneni who never lost control of the proceedings.

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As the first set went on, Saketh upped the intensity on his returns that frustrated the young Serbian and helped Myneni to secure three breaks of serve. In 30 minutes, he had the set in his pocket.

Krstin could never manage to come back from the first set loss as his game totally fell apart. Myneni capitalized on the situation to blitz through the second set. He converted all three of his break point opportunities to grab the one-sided set and with it, the match.

Saketh’s first round opponent will be World number 48 Jiri Vesely.

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