Australian Open 2020 Qualifiers: Prajnesh Gunneswaran through to final round; Sumit Nagal crashes out
Indians suffered mixed fortunes on Day 3 of the Australian Open 2020 qualifiers, with 21st seed Sumit Nagal crashing out of the competition at the hands of Mohamed Safwat and Prajnesh Gunneswaran battling past Yannick Hanfmann.
Nagal appeared to be cruising in the first set as he raced off to a 4-1 lead. However, things soon got out of hand for the Indian as Safwat battled back, levelling at 4-4.
The Egyptian secured a set point at 6-5, but a netted backhand dented his hopes of snatching the set.
However, Safwat played a strong tie-breaker, conceding just two points to take the first set and along with it, plenty of momentum.
Nagal appeared to be physically spent in the second set and despite a valiant effort early on, he failed to keep pace with the Egyptian.
Safwat raced away to a 5-2 lead and then held his nerve to serve out the match, booking a berth in the second round, where he will face Frenchman Alexandre Muller.
Gunneswaran looked set to follow his countryman Nagal out of the competition after a sluggish start to his second-round match against Hanfmann. The 17th seed found no rhythm in the opening exchanges and conceded the first set in under 20 minutes.
However, he soon began to grow into the game and after staving off a breakpoint in the fifth game of the second set, Gunneswaran made his move.
Breaking to love, Gunneswaran raced away to a 5-2 lead before breaking again to seal the set.
The third set followed a similar script as the Indian dropped just a single game en route to a memorable comeback victory.
Gunneswaran reeled off 18 winners during the contest and also converted four of his five break opportunities to cap off a solid display against a dangerous opponent.
He will now lock horns with mercurial Latvian Ernests Gulbis for a spot in the Australian Open main draw.Published 16 Jan 2020, 16:05 IST