Prajnesh Gunneswaran Qualifies for the Grand Slam Main Draw

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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, 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.

“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.

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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Lover of cultures, varied colors, and underdogs, Bhawna is a by-heart and professional playwright. Hailing from a journalism & communication background, she incorporates a careful study at both flips of the coin which is essentially required to be analytical in thoughts and words. Actively abreast of the current affairs around the globe, she likes knowing and bringing into light the unexplored. Problem solving via the power of content is what inspires her and hence KreedOn, a platform created for the betterment of sports ecosystem in India, is now her happy workplace!

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