Antoine Escoffier of France caused the first upset of the Chennai Open ATP Challenger here, sending fifth-seeded Sumit Nagal of India packing with a straight forward 6-3, 6-3 win. The two other seeded players in action on the opening day of the USD 50,000 event, Duckhee Lee (No.3) and Egypt's Mohammed Safwat (No.4), advanced with straight forward wins. While Lee beat N Vijay Sundar Prashanth 6-3, 6-4, Safwat got past Alessandro Bega of Italy 6-4, 6-3. Escoffier shut out Nagal rather easily. He broke the Indian in the first and ninth games to win the first set 6-3. The Frenchman served and stroked with ease as Nagal struggled to hold serve.
Though Indian's first serve percentage was higher than the Frenchman, his delivery lacked penetration thus he was always on the backfoot throughout. In the second set, it was even-stevens till three games all. Escoffier held serve and broke the Indian in the next game to lead 5-3 and take the upper hand. He then served out in the next game to show Nagal the exit. The agile Lee proved too good for Sundar Prashanth, coming up with some fluent strokes. Three of the qualifiers Arjun Khade, Wishaya Trongcharoenchaikul (Thailand) and Sidharth Rawat got through to the second round but three wild card entrants, Nitin Kumar Sinha, Dhakshineswar Suresh and Vijay Sundar Prashanth bit the dust, bowing out in straight sets. Pune's Khade, who has been in good form of late, held off Saketh Myneni's challenge in three sets in just over two hours. Myneni returning from an injury break served six aces in the first set to win it on a tie-break. In the second set, Khade got 79 per cent of his first serves in and played positively to win it 6-3 with the help of one break. He raised his level of play in the decider, landing 94 per cent of his first serves and secured the all-important break in the 10th game to enter the second round. Qualifier Trongcharoenchaikul played a solid game from the baseline to overcome a mid-match slump to oust Balaji in two hours and 15 minutes. In the doubles event, top-seeded Ratawatana twins (Sonchat and Sanchai) of Thailand, proved oo good for the Sood twins Lakshit and Chandril. They romped home conceding only three games. Sriram Balaji had better luck in the doubles as he and Vishnu Vardhan beat Dmitry Popko of Kazakisthan and Bernabe Zapata Miralles of Spain. In another match, Saketh Myneni partnering Luca Margaroli defeated Sasikumar Mukund and Adil Kalyanpur in straight sets. The top-seed in the singles draw, Jordan Thompson of Australia opens his campaign tomorrow as would the No.2 seed Yuki Bhambri of India. Results - Singles - first round (Indians unless otherwise stated): Duckhee Lee (Korea-X3) bt N Vijay Sundar Prashanth 6-3, 6-4; Mohamed Safwat (Egypt-X4) Bt Alessandro Bega (Italy) 6-4, 6-3; Antoine Escoffier (France) bt Sumit Nagal (X5) 6-3, 6-3; Wishaya Trongcharoenchaikul (Thailand) bt N Sriram Balaji 6-4, 3-6, 7-5; Arjun Kadhe bt Saketh Myneni 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4; Lucas Catarina bt Nitin Kumar Sinha 6-3, 6-4; Gerard Granollers (Spain) bt Sasi Kumar Mukund 6-3, 6-2; Sidharth Rawat bt Dhakshineswar Suresh 6-2, 6-0. Doubles (first round): Sanchai Ratiwatana/Sonchat Ratiwatana (Thailand-X1) bt Chandril Sood/Lakshit Sood 6-0, 6-3; N Sriram Balaji/Vishnu Vardhan bt Dmitry Popko (KAZ)/Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) 7-6(8), 6-1; Luca Margaroli (SUI)/Saketh Myneni (X4) bt Adil Kalyanpur/ Saketh Mukund 6-4, 6-3.
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