India’s number one singles player Prajnesh Gunneswaran has defeated Yosuke Watanuki of Japan in the third round of Australian Open Qualifiers to storm into the main draw for the first time in his career.
The only Indian hope alive in the singles draw, sixth seeded Gunneswaran took two hours and 10 minutes to get the better of Japanese player in three sets 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-4.
The Indian southpaw bounced back in a stunning way after losing the first set in a tie-breaker and capitalized on Yosuke Watanuki’s errors to enter the first Grand Slam of his career.
The 112 ranked left hander had a chance to be in the French Open’s main draw last year as the lucky loser but he had already left Paris for the another tournament (giving a chance to Marco Trungelliti).
He will be the only Indian hope in the singles draw of Australian Open 2019 as Ramkumar Ramanathan and Ankita Raina knocked out in the second round of the qualifiers in Melbourne on Thursday.
Gunneswaran defeated world no. 213 Enrique Lopez Perez of Spain in the previous round of qualifiers to advance to the third and final qualifying stage of the first Grand Slam of the year. Prajnesh was quick off the blocks and won the match in just 74 minutes.
He had his best-ever season last year in which he won a couple of ATP Challenger titles and became the new top-ranked player from India in the men’s singles category.
The 21st seeded Ramkumar Ramanathan lost to lower ranked Rudolf Mollekar of Germany in a nail-biting three setter by 7-5, 5-7, 6-7(6). He lost the crucial break point opportunity at 3-3 in the final set that proved costly in the end.
Meanwhile, Ankita Raina lost to 29th seed Paula Badosa Gibert by 6-4, 2-6, 4-6 in the second-round clash of women’s singles qualifiers.