India’s Prajnesh Gunneswaran lost to USA’s Frances Tiafoe in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday. Making his first appearance in the men’s singles main draw of a Grand Slam, Prajnesh lost 7-6 (7), 6-3, 6-3 in an hour and 52 minutes to Tiafoe, ranked 70 places above him at 109.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 14, 2019
The highest ranked Indian had come into the main draw after winning two matches in straight sets and then a tense final round of qualifying.
The Game: As it happened
In the match against Tiafoe that lasted an hour and 52 minutes, Prajnesh missed out on converting the big points. He had a set point in the first set tie break and broke first in the second set, but he couldn’t make the most of the advantage to allow Tiafoe to make his way back in.
After starting out well on his serve, dropping just 2 points on the second serve in the first set, his percentage dropped to just 55% while errors crept in too. After an intensely fought first set which produced no break points for either men, Prajnesh got the key mini-break for a set point opportunity. However, Tiafoe kept pushing the left-handed Indian before closing things out at the net.
After exchanging service holds to begin the second set, Prajnesh broke for 2-1, aided by a couple of errors from Tiafoe. However, Prajnesh was broken right back, saving one break point before being forced into an error by the American. As Prajnesh struggled with his first serve, he was broken for 4-2 by Tiafoe, who held on to the lead to take the set.
Prajnesh continued with his tactic of hitting the ball flat and matching Tiafoe groundstroke-to-groundstroke from the back of the court. At some stages, he shuffled things around by moving up when receiving the serve but World No. 39 Tiafoe had an answer ready in most cases. Prajnesh was the first to get broken in the third set but to his credit, he hit back immediately to make it 2-2.
The 112th ranked Prajnesh was broken soon after before seeing Tiafoe convert the second match opportunity with a running forehand winner. With the win, Tiafoe has equalled his best ever showing in Melbourne and will next face fifth seed, Kevin Anderson. The South African beat Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1.
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