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Bengaluru Open ATP Challenger winner Prajnesh Gunneswaran targets regular World Tour appearances

Last year, Prajnesh Gunneswaran was just warming up in the Futures circuit. Apart from a semifinal finish at the Tiburon Challenger in the US, he didn’t have much success in the Challenger Tour.

Published: 18th November 2018 05:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th November 2018 05:13 AM   |  A+A-

Prajnesh Gunneswaran (L) after winning the Bengaluru Open | Vinod Kumar T

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Last year, Prajnesh Gunneswaran was just warming up in the Futures circuit. Apart from a semifinal finish at the Tiburon Challenger in the US, he didn’t have much success in the Challenger Tour. But 2018 proved to be a crucial year for the Chennai lad. Starting the year as World No 243, he proved his mettle in the Challenger circuit and made steady progress, reaching two finals and winning one – the Kunming Open in April.

On Saturday, at the Bengaluru Open final, he had another opportunity to make it two, coming back off a fairly successful Challenger Tour in China. 

Having lost one chance against Thomas Fabbiano last month, he made it count at the KSLTA courts here. Prajnesh breezed past fellow Indian Saketh Myneni 6-2, 6-2 in just 56 minutes to win his second Challenger title.

Prajnesh started off well, breaking Myneni in the very first game. He held on to the momentum, but a few unforced errors handed Myneni a chance to break back in the sixth game. However, Prajnesh managed to save two break points and broke his compatriot back in the next game after Myneni surrendered the game with a double fault. He won the first set 6-2 in 26 minutes and put pressure on Myneni with some fantastic returns.

The second set had a similar story. Myneni faltered once again with his serve and gave away the first game. Prajnesh then held on to his serve with ease and didn’t have to sweat much. In the fifth game, he had another chance to break Myneni. The Hyderabad man saved three break points before eventually going down 6-2.

“I started well and got an early break. Saketh looked tired and I capitalised. But he tried making a comeback and there were few close moments. I also played a few loose points here and there but apart from that I played without too many patterns and that worked,” Prajnesh said after the match.
The triumph also ensured that he will achieve his career-best ranking on Monday. After a tough year, he now plans to play regularly on the World Tour. 

“I had a good run in the Futures last year. The plan this year was to play well on the Challenger Tour. But I had to work on a few things. I was not returning that well and it was more defensive. I was playing more rallies than I should have and had a low first serve percentage. I worked on it,” said Prajnesh. “I had a good run this year. Now, I have to take the next step, playing regularly on the World Tour, while also reducing the number of matches in the Challenger circuit and eventually stop it. I have one more tournament and I hope to finish the year as strong as possible.”

Prajnesh plays in the Pune Challenger next and if he manages to win the title, it could see him on the cusp of making it to the Australian Open main draw.  
krishnendu@newindianexpress.com



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