PUNE: Indian pair of Ramkumar Ramanathan and Purav Raja made their way into the doubles quarter-final of the third edition of Tata Open Maharashtra with hard-fought yet convincing 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 victory against compatriot Sumit Nagal and his Partner Egor Gerasimov of Belarus at Mhalunge Balewadi Stadium in Pune on Wednesday.The Indian rising star Nagal, who was included into doubles main draw following withdrawal of German pair Peter Gojowczyk- Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, could not capitalise on the opportunity. After winning the first in the tie-breaker Ramanathan-Raja came strongly into the next set which saw them dominating and wrapping it up 6-3 easily as well as the match in straight sets. The duo will now face stiff challenge of India’s Leander Paes on Thursday.Eight-time Grand Slam doubles champion Paes, playing alongside Australian Matthew Ebden beat compatriot Divij Sharan and his partner Artem Sitak 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) in the doubles opening round match Tuesday.Earlier in the singles round-of-32, Sasikumar Mukund dished out a gritty performance before going down against the Japanese Taro Daniel. The 23-year-old Indian youngster, who was handed a wild-card entry during his third appearance at the Tata Open Maharashtra, made strong comeback into the second set before losing the first 6-2. However, despite putting a solid performance in the second set that saw Daniel struggling, Mukund went onto lose 6-2, 7-6 (9-7) it in the thrilling tie-breaker. “Making a main draw debut in Pune is a very special for me. Playing here has given me experience of playing in front of the crowd. I got broken too early in the sets. I had a chance with five all. It’s not because of that one break point why I am sitting here. It was because of all the points I played,” said Mukund, who played in the qualifying round in the last two editions of India’s premier ATP 250 event, which is organised by Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA) in association with Government of Maharashtra.Meanwhile, in the doubles round-of-16 match, Robin Haase of Netherlands and Sweden’s Robert Lindstedt played to their had to work hard in their opening round match against Dutch pair of Sander Arends and David Pel which went into tie-breaker. However, top-seeded pair of Haase-Lindstedt somehow managed to comeback in the decider and completed 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 10-8 win. (Agencies)Also Read: Hall of Fame runner-up Ramkumar Ramanathan reaches 115 in Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) RankingsAlso Watch: This Human-Elephant friendship from Manas National Park will leave you in awe
Following a memorable sendoff from the McClimon Soccer Complex this season with a 2-0 win over DePaul in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, the fourth-seeded Wisconsin women’s soccer team (19-2-2) looks ahead to this Friday’s second round matchup against Central Florida (17-4-0) as they aim for a deep playoff run.Unlike the Badgers, who essentially cruised to their first round victory over DePaul following two early goals by senior forward Cara Walls in the first half last Saturday, the UCF nights found themselves in a 1-1 deadlock with more than 20 minutes in their match against Georgia. It took a timely effort from midfielder Ashley Spivey the team’s leading scorer, to finish off a cross in the 69th minute from forward Hannah DeBose for the 2-1 lead and eventual final score.Friday’s second round match marks the meeting of two of the nation’s premiere defenses, with the Badgers allowing just 0.30 goals per game and the Knights yielding 0.48. Wisconsin also boasts 18 shutouts out of their 23 total games this season while UCF has 18 of their own through 21 games. Both starting goalies won the goalkeeper of the year awards this season for their respective conferences, with Wisconsin’s redshirt senior Genevieve Richard earning the Big Ten’s distinction and UCF junior Connie Organ taking the honor for the American Athletic Conference.As dominant as both defenses have been all season, the two sides also bring forth formidable offensive attacks that have played an instrumental role in their team’s success so far. For Wisconsin, Walls leads the way with 14 goals in 19 games this season for a squad that averages 1.83 goals per game this season. Setting up the majority of Wall’s goals this season have been the midfield duo of junior Kinley McNicoll and sophomore Rose Lavelle, whose combined 18 assists have helped produce less than half (43 percent) of the team’s total goals scored this season (42).When the Badgers find themselves in a tight match and in desperate need of a game-winner, redshirt senior forward Kodee Williams has been the one to answer the call. Among her total of seven goals this season, five of them have been game winners for Wisconsin this season.Perhaps the biggest matchup coming into Friday’s match will be UCF’s star forward Tatiana Coleman against Wisconsin’s stout defense. With a team-leading 12 goals and 10 assists already this season, the AAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year will look to get past the experienced Badger backline, led by senior Alexandra Heller, junior Brianna Stelzer and sophomore Kylie Schwarz. So far this season, Wisconsin’s opponents have been held to just nine shots per game and a measly 34 percent shot percentage. When Coleman manages to get an on-target attempt, however, she’s been efficient this season, scoring on less than half (49.3 percent) of those shots.Rutgers and No. 2 seeded Penn St., the other two Big Ten Teams in the tournament, survived their opening round matches and will be in action this weekend. Rutgers takes on the No. 2 seed Virginia while the Nittany Lions face off against Connecticut.The remaining rounds of the tournament will be at neutral sites. Wisconsin and UCF will kick off Friday at 1:30 p.m. central time, at Florida State’s Seminole Soccer Complex.