India’s Prajnesh Gunneswaran defeated Yosuke Watanuki 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-4 in the third round of the Australia Open qualifiers to proceed to a Grand Slam men’s singles main draw for the first time in his career.
Prajnesh is the only third Indian in 5 years to feature in the men’s singles main draw of a Grand Slam, the other being Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhambri.
PRAJNESH THROUGH AUSTRALIAN OPEN FINAL QUALIFYING ROUND
Prajnesh Gunneswaran asserted his dominance over 140th ranked Enrique Lopez Perez, beating him 6-3 6-3.
— Indian Tennis Daily (@IndiantennisFan) January 10, 2019
Prajnesh, ranked 112 on ATP men’s singles charts and India’s top-ranked player, came back from behind after losing the first set in a 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-4 against Japan’s Yosuke Watanuki in the third qualifying round. The sixth seed had defeated Spain’s Enrique Lopez Perez 6-3 6-3 in the men’s singles second round.-- Advertisement --
“It’s obviously huge for me. First time ever in a Grand Slam main draw, something I have always dreamt of. I am really happy, don’t have words to describe it but it’s big deal for sure,” Prajnesh told PTI.
“I am very proud that I stuck to it and put in all this work. I got here much later than most people do. I had the tennis to reach here, now just need to rest and recover for the main draw,” Prajnesh added.
“It was nowhere near as good as I wanted it to be. I stayed tough mentally and fought really hard. I did not really play too flat, I felt a lot of pressure from the beginning to the end. In between, I played very defensive, attacked here and there. It was more a battle of nerves. It was very close, the key was that I stayed tough throughout and I put a lot on the opponent and I did everything possible to find a way to win,” said Prajnesh on the match.
Prajnesh will face world number 39 Frances Tiafoe from the USA in his maiden main draw match at a Grand Slam on Monday.
Points from the last game of Prajnesh Gunneswaran. A must watch match for all Indian Tennis fans.
Watch out for the highlights on YouTube incase missed the… https://t.co/bRXYXzL9UW
— Indian Tennis Daily (@IndiantennisFan) January 11, 2019
The left-hander from Chennai, ranked 112 in the world currently, had qualified for the main draw of French Open in 2018 as a lucky loser, but could not make it after leaving Paris to play a Challenger. Prajnesh had been in fine form in 2018 as the 29-year-old from Chennai won two ATP Challenger titles, including the $150,000 event in Bengaluru. He had jumped 131 places after starting last year as the 243rd-ranked player on the ATP charts.
Meanwhile, Prajnesh’s compatriot, Ramkumar Ramanathan failed to qualify for the main draw after losing the qualifying second round to 7-5, 5-7, 6-7(6) world number 207 Rudolf Molleker of Germany.
Women’s singles star Ankita Raina also exited the qualifying competition in the second round after a 6-4, 2-6, 4-6 defeat to Paula Badosa Gibert.
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