Karan Rastogi back in action at Delhi Challenger

Karan Rastogi, India’s number three tennis player, is all set to make a comeback at an ATP Challenger tournament in New Delhi next month.

Karan RastogiRastogi, sidelined with a back injury during the ATP Mumbai Open in September, told the Indian Tennis blog that his back was better and he planned to play both the hardcourt challenger events in the Indian capital at the end of 2007.

The 21-year-old Mumbai resident, currently ranked 344 in the world, had won the Morocco F5 claycourt Futures in July this year.

News of Rastogi’s comeback should please fans of Indian tennis, which has seen many of its stars fall prey to injury this year.

Sania Mirza finished her season early while Prakash Amritraj, Harsh Mankad and Mahesh Bhupathi are also recovering from injuries. With Sunitha Rao withdrawing from two consecutive Challenger tournaments in the US this month, speculation about another injury scare were rife.

Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes have also not played since the Stockholm Open and the BA-CA Tennis Trophy in Vienna earlier this month.

With the country’s top players taking a break from tennis courts, the India F10 Futures in Gulbarga got more than its share of attention.

ITFBut India’s second-string players, with the exception of world number 605 Sunil Kumar Sipaeya, failed to make it beyond the second round in the singles. Eighth seed Sipaeya lost to eventual champion Ivan Cerovic of Croatia in the quarter-finals.

There was better luck for India in the doubles with the second-seeded pair of Vijay Kannan and Kazakhstan’s Alexey Kedryuk beating Tushar Liberhan and Rupesh Roy 6-4,3-6,10-3 in the final of the $15,000+ hardcourt tournament.

Across the border, sixth seed Ashwin Vijayragavan justified his seeding by making it to the singles quarterfinals of the Islamabad Futures. Pairing up with Korean Jeong-Han, Vijayragavan lost to home crowd favourites Aqeel Khan and Asim Shafik in a closely fought doubles semifinal 6-2,4-6,9-11.

Other Indians had little success abroad. Mustafa Ghouse lost in the singles qualifiers of the ATP Seoul Challenger before he and Israel’s Dudi Sela bowed out in the opening round of the doubles event.

World number 728 Prerana Appineni also lost her opening singles and doubles encounters at the ITF tournament in Valencia, Venezuela. Down under in Traralgon (Australia), world number 359 Tara Iyer lost her singles opener and then forfeited her doubles quarterfinal match.

The action now shifts to the Pakistan F2 Futures grasscourt tournament in Lahore starting on Monday where a host of Indian players, led by Sipaeya, are in the fray.

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