Bengaluru, January 11: India's Prajnesh Gunneswaran defeated Japan's Yosuke Watanuki 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-4 in the third round of the Australian Open qualifiers to enter main draw of the season's first Grand Slam. This is his maiden main draw appearance in a Grand Slam.
Prajnesh, ranked 112 in the world, prevailed in a match that lasted two hours and 10 minutes. He started on a terrible note, losing the first set in a tie-breaker but bounced back to win the next two sets in a clinical display.
Prajnesh had qualified for the main draw of French Open as the lucky loser in 2018, but could not participate as he had registered to play a Challenger tournament in Paris.
Prajnesh, seeded sixth, got the better of Spain's Enrique Lopez Perez 6-3 6-3 in the men's singles second round. "I played a better match than yesterday and remained solid throughout. I broke three times and there were not too many games where my serve was in danger. I played good mentally as well," Prajnesh told PTI. "I did the right things, attacked when I got chances."
But Ramkumar Ramanathan and Ankita Raina lost their respective third round qualifiers. Placed 132 in the world rankings, Ramkumar played a very close match before losing 7-5, 5-7, 6-7 (6) to Germany's Rudolf Molleker, ranked 207.
"I served well in the match and had a break point at 3-3 in the final set but missed the backhand down the line. It was just a few inches wide. You have to take those chances," rued Ramkumar. In the women's singles, Asian Games bronze medallist Ankita also had a one-set advantage but went down 6-4, 2-6, 4-6 to Spain's 29th seed Paula Badosa Gibert, world number 142.