What's the story?
The Indian ace had qualified to the main draw of the Grand Slam as the 'lucky loser.' Prajnesh had defeated Australia's Harry Bourchier and Germany's Yannick Hanfmann in the first and second round of the qualifiers, respectively. However, the 30-year-old had failed to surpass the final hurdle in Latvia's Ernests Gulbis.
Alex de Minaur and Kamil Majchrzak had to withdraw from the Australian Open due to injuries while Nocilas Jarry suffered a doping suspension. This paved the way for Prajnesh to enter the main draw as the 'lucky loser.'
The heart of the matter
Prajnesh locked horns with Tatsuma Ito of Japan in the first round of the main draw, whom he was facing for the very first time. In an encounter that lasted nearly two hours, the Chennai-born player lost 4-6, 2-6, 5-7 in straight sets to his lower-ranked Japanese opponent at the Rod Laver Arena.
Initially, the match was scheduled for 20th January but had to be postponed to 21st January due to rain.
Current World Number 123 Prajnesh was no match for Ito in the first two sets. He fought with grit and valour in the third set and even took a 2-1 lead. However, Ito broke back and sealed the deal with a 7-5 win in the third set. The Japanese will now face Serbian legend Novak Djokovic in the Round of 64.
This was Prajnesh's fifth straight appearance in the draw of a Grand Slam event. With the 30-year-old ousted in Round 1, India's campaign in the singles event of Australian Open 2020 is over.
Regardless, Prajnesh has still pocketed Australian $1,22,500 for his exploits at the Grand Slam.
Sania Mirza won the Hobart International last week with her partner Nadiia Kichenok. The Indo-Ukranian duo will take on Xinyun Han and Lin Zhu of China in their opening round match at Australian Open 2020 in the Women's doubles category.
Meanwhile, Divij Sharan and his Kiwi partner Artem Sitak will take on Pablo Carreno Busta and Joao Sousa in their first match of the tournament. The other Indian in the fray in Men's Doubles is Rohan Bopanna. Bopanna and his Japanese partner Yasutaka Uchiyama will be locking horns with Bob and Mike Bryan, the 13th seeded pair from the US, in the opening round.
Published 21 Jan 2020, 13:14 IST