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Australian Open 2019: Prajnesh Gunneswaran through to the main draw

Rajdeep Singh
155   //    11 Jan 2019, 11:42 IST

2019 Australian Open Qualifying - Day 4
2019 Australian Open Qualifying - Day 4

India's no. 1 singles tennis player, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, has made it to the main draw of the Australian Open for the first time in his career. He did so by defeating Yosuke Watanuki 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-4 in a tight three-set encounter at Melbourne Park.

Gunneswaran won his first two qualifying matches with ease - in straight sets. He battled from a set down today and emerged victorious in a match which lasted 2 hours and 10 minutes.

This will be the first time Prajnesh will be competing in the main draw of a Grand Slam. In fact, he had qualified for the main draw of the French Open in 2018 as a lucky loser but could not make it to the tournament as he had already left Paris to take part in a Challenger tournament.

He is the only Indian alive in the singles category at the Australian Open as Ramkumar Ramanathan and Ankita Raina both failed to win their respective 2nd round qualifying matches. Earlier, Karman Kaur Thandi had lost in the first round of qualifying.

Gunneswaran had a breakthrough year in 2018, winning two Challenger titles - in China and Bengaluru. He followed that up by reaching the final of the Pune Challenger event as well. Due to his impressive performances throughout the year, he ended the year as India's no. 1 ranked tennis player.

With this win, he moves up from 112 in the world to 108. He could break into the top 100 if he manages to get a couple of victories under his belt in the main draw.

He will take on USA's Frances Tiafoe in the first round of the main draw. If he does get past the world no. 39, he could take on world no. 6 Kevin Anderson in the second round.