Away from the tumult of the Russia- Ukraine war, former world No 65 Evgeny Donskoy of Russia is enjoying his tennis on Indian soil and would continue to do so in two more ITF events in Mysore and Chennai over the next 15 days after finishing his assignment at the ongoing Lucknow leg of the ITF $25K Men’s Open.
“Tennis is everything to me and I am enjoying my game here in India for the last 15 days, and would continue to do so over the next 15 days after finishing the competition in Lucknow,” said Donskoy after beating India No 5 Digvijay Pratap Singh in his first-round tie here on Wednesday.
Donskoy, 32, who had a stunning win against Australian Open champion Roger Federer in the second round of the Dubai Tennis Championships in 2017, beat Digvijay 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 in a match that almost lasted two hours.
Digvijay hit some fiery forehand cross-courts and serves to level the match and was even leading 4-3 in the decider, but Donskoy showed his might. He also showed some extraordinary sportsmanship as he called the ball “right” when the umpire had judged it out.
“My 2017 win over Federer is an old story…who cares what happened in the past? I am happy the way I am playing tennis now. It wasn’t easy for me today as Singh was at his best in the second set. Even when I was trailing 3-4 in the decider, I didn’t lose my focus. I knew that my chances would come,” said Donskoy who won the title at the Delhi leg of the ITF last week.
Donskoy, a regular in the Challengers, said that playing in ITF tourneys has helped him gain vital ATP points and gain the experience of competing against a variety of players, especially against the Indians who have always been quite impressive.
He praises Indians Rohan Bopanna, Sumit Nagal, Yuki Bhambri, and Somdev Devvarman. “They are very good hands, hold good serving capacities, but I will say that maybe their physical condition is not that good. But many of them are among the top 100 players in the world and it’s great for Indian tennis,” he said.
Before the Donskoy-Digvijay match on court No 1 could draw everyone’s attention, India’s Abhinav Sanjeev Shanmugam went all out but faltered towards the end, losing to Japanese Y Takahashi 0-6, 7-5, 6-7. Indian Davis Cupper Karan Singh kept his cool to overcome Japan’s S Sekiguchi 6-3, 6-4 whereas energetic Siddharth Vishwakarma ousted young Rushil Khosla 7-6, 6-3 to make it to the second round.
India No 2 Shashikumar Mukund didn’t face much of a challenge before brushing aside Dutchman Stijn Pel in straight sets 6-4, 6-2. “I had a lung infection in the Delhi leg of the event. I am still not fully fit, but I feel that today’s win was one of the better matches I played this year. Here the draw is tough and everybody is playing his best tennis, and I would try to continue my winning streak here,” said Mukund.
Indian Niki Poonacha faced defeat at the hands of compatriot M Sureshkumar in a gruelling three-set battle 7-6, 6-4, 6-2. Second-seed Oliver Crawford displayed great fitness and effortless strokes as he came back from a set down to beat British man George Loffhagmen 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Noida’s Siddharth Rawat also marched into the second round, beating Ishaque Eqbal 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, whereas the other Uttar Pradesh lad Yash Chaurasia was shown the exit door by the 2016 Australian Open Boy’s Doubles winner Blake Ellis 6-3, 6-3.