India’s Prajnesh Gunneswaran has pulled off a big upset and the biggest win of his career over Canada’s World no. 23 Denis Shapovalov in the opening round of the ATP Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart.
In his first ever appearance at an ATP World Tour main draw, Prajnesh totally stunned the crowd by sending the number six seed out of tournament in an hour and 48 minutes to progress in the second round at the grass-court event, which also marks the return to action of Roger Federer.
The 28-year-old left-hander has been in a superb formthis year, he pulled off a heroic moment in India-China tie in the Davis Cup where he got the better of reigning US Open junior champion Yibing Wu of China in the fifth and final rubber to seal India’s place in the World Group play-offs. Later on, he cliched his first ATP Challenger title at Kunming.
Prajnesh, who recently reached his career-best ranking of 169, defeated the much higher ranked Shapovalov in three sets thriller, he got to the good start by winning the first set in the tie breaker by 7-6 (8-6), but Shapovalov shifted the momentum to his side by taking the second set in much convincing way by 6-2 to stretch the match into three sets.
However, Prajnesh, who had an impressive first serve percentage, getting 71% of his first serves in compared to the Canadian’s 53% kept himself calm under the pressure and sealed the match by winning the final set with the scoreline of 7-6 (8-6), 2-6, 6-3.
Both the players had plenty of break points on their own serve but Indian converted 5 out of 10 to his name, comparing to Shapovalov, who could only manage to convert 4 out of the possible 8.
Though Prajnesh has cleared the tough first challenge, but the road ahead will not be easy as he will take on world No 75 Guido Pella in the round of 16 and if he is able to defeat him too, he will possibly meet 20 times Grand Slam Champion, Roger Federer in the Quarter-final clash.
Over the last twelve months, Indian single’s players have done really well to stun some big names in the tennis world, In August 2017, Bhambri had beaten World No 22 and Citi Open defending champion Gael Monfils while in June 2017, Ramkumar Ramanathan defeated then World No 8 Dominic Thiem, who just ended as runner-up in recently concluded French Open 2018.