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French Open 2018 qualifying: Prajnesh Gunneswaran wins first round, Ankita Raina faces 10th seed

FEATURED COLUMNIST
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690   //    22 May 2018, 13:30 IST

TENNIS-DAVIS-IND-UZB
Prajnesh Gunneswaran

Indian tennis players had mixed fortunes with Prajnesh Gunneswaran being the only one to win his match as the qualifying rounds got under way at the French Open 2018 in Paris on Monday. Both Ramkumar Ramanathan and Sumit Nagal failed to cross the first hurdle.

Gunneswaran beat Salvatore Caruso of Italy 6-4, 6-4 in 1 hour 32 minutes. The 12th seeded Ramanathan fought back in vain from a set down to ultimately go down 3-6, 7-5, 1-6 to Jay Clarke while the 20-year-old Nagal squandered a one-set lead to surrender 6-4, 4-6, 1-6 to the 10th seeded Martin Klizan.

The 28-year-old Gunneswaran has recently enjoyed a good run of form. He turned out to be the Davis Cup hero for India when he beat the reigning US Open junior champion Yibing Wu to help India progress to the World Group play-offs.

The southpaw carried that form into the ATP Challenger circuit to taste glory at the Kunming Open. That pushed him up to a career-high ranking of 175th.

The World No. 183 next faces the 32nd seed Marcelo Arévalo of El Salvador. The Indian needs to win a couple more rounds to get a chance to play the main draw of the claycourt Slam.

At 225, Great Britain’s Jay Clarke is placed more than a 100 places below the 121st ranked Ramanathan. The latter still found the going tough and conceded six breaks of serve to lose the match in 1 hour 51 minutes.

Nagal made a bright start against an opponent who has recently beaten Novak Djokovic. The World No. 117, however, found his rhythm to come back from a set down and get the win in 2 hours 1 minute.

Tough debut for Raina

Meanwhile, the 277th ranked Ankita Raina has a tough opponent in her Grand Slam debut on Tuesday. She faces the 10th seed and World No. 116 Evgeniya Rodina in her first round.

The two have crossed swords only once before at the $25, 000 ITF tournament in Chiasso in 2016, where the Indian was outclassed 2-6, 0-6.

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FEATURED COLUMNIST
A freelance journalist based in Kolkata who is a diehard Rafael Nadal fan. She is also extremely passionate about India’s progress in sports and hopes to throw light on India’s unsung sports heroes through her articles. When not screaming her lungs out in support of her favourite sports stars, she can be seen reading, watching movies or immersed in planning her next travel destination!
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