A preview of the Indian players in action at the 2019 Australian Open
The first Grand Slam of 2019 starts on the 14th of January in Melbourne, Australia. The Indian players are expected to make a mark this time after Prajnesh Gunneswaran qualified for the main draw of the Men’s Singles event. Meanwhile, Rohan Bopanna has the best chance to add more titles to his name at this year‘s Grand Slam in the men's doubles and mixed doubles categories.
Let's recap what happened in the Qualifiers
Seeded sixth in the qualifiers with a ranking of 112, Prajnesh Gunneswaran had a splendid run in the qualifiers to enter the main draw of the Australian Open.
He overcame Viktor Galovic of Croatia, ranked 228, in straight sets 6-4, 6-4. He scorched 21 winners and displayed amazing net play, winning 92% of net points.
In the second round, 213th ranked Enrique Lopez Perez made 32 unforced errors including three double faults as Prajnesh recorded 67% of his points with his second serve and won 6-3, 6-3 in straight sets.
In the final qualifying round, Prajnesh finished out a thrilling match against Japan’s Yosuke Watanuki, who ranked 192nd in the world. The Indian lost a tough first set in a tie-break before taking the next two to march into the main draw with a 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-4 win. He capitalized in claiming four of his ten break-point opportunities as Yosuke produced an error-prone match with 62 unforced errors.
Qual Rd 1: Prajnesh Gunneswaran (112) (IND) def. Viktor Galovic (228) (CRO) 6-4, 6-4.
Qual Rd 2: Prajnesh Gunneswaran (112) (IND) def. Enrique Lopez Perez (213) (ESP) 6-3, 6-3.
Qual Rd 3: Prajnesh Gunneswaran (112) (IND) def. Yosuke Watanuki (192) (JPN) 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-4.
21st seed Indian star Ramkumar Ramanathan, ranked 132nd in the world, had a comfortable 6-3, 6-2 win over 211th ranked Sergio Gutierrez-Ferrol of Spain in the first round of qualification. Ramanathan converted four of seven break point opportunities and won 15 of his 27 points with his second serve as he took control of the match.
He made an impressive start against 207th ranked Rudolf Molleker of Germany taking the first set 7-5. He managed 22 aces and 46 winners against his opponent but lost crucial points in the tie break as he exited the Australian open losing the second and third sets 5-7, 6-7 (6-10).
Qual Rd 1: Ramkumar Ramanathan (132) (IND) defeats Sergio Gutierrez-Ferrol (211) (ESP) 6-3, 6-2.
Qual Rd 2: Ramkumar Ramanathan (132) (IND) lost to Rudolf Molleker (207) (GER) 7-5, 5-7, 6-7 (6-10).
Women's Qualifying Singles:
India’s rising young stars in the Women’s circuit, Ankita Raina and Karman Kaur Thandi could not get past the qualifiers of the Australian Open. 204th ranked Ankita Raina managed a convincing win over 239th Myrtille Georges of France in the first round. She raked up 18 winners and had 82% of her first serves to coast to a comfortable 6-2, 6-2 win.
In the second round, she took on the 142nd ranked Spaniard Paula Badosa Gibert and started impressively taking the first set 6-4. Paula managed 47 winners and notched up 75% points with her first serves and closed out the match by taking the second and third sets 2-6, 4-6 to knock Ankita out.
Qual Rd 1: Ankita Raina (204) (IND) defeats Myrtille Georges (239) (FRA) 6-2, 6-2.
Qual Rd 2: Ankita Raina (132) (IND) lost to Paula Badosa Gibert (142) (ESP) 6-4, 2-6, 4-6.
206th ranked Karman Thandi was no match for the 125th ranked Jennifer Brady from the United States as she pummelled Karman in the first set taking it 0-6. She came back in the second set before losing it 5-7. She made five double faults, 33 unforced errors and recorded a poor first serve percentage of 53% leading to her exit from the Australian Open.
Qual Rd 1: Karman Kaur Thandi (132) (IND) lost to Jennifer Brady (125) (USA) 0-6, 5-7.
Prajnesh faces a tough first-round match against the twenty-year-old American youngster Frances Tiafoe ranked 39th in the world. Though this will be the first meeting between the two players, Prajnesh will have his hopes up as he shocked the 23rd ranked Canadian Denis Shapovalov in Stuttgart, Germany, last year in three sets.
Round 1: Frances Tiafoe (39) (USA) vs Prajnesh Gunneswaran (112) (IND) - Court No. 15 on January 14, 2019, between 6.30 - 7.30 am IST.
Competing in his first Australian Open event, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan ranked 74th in Doubles, along with his compatriot Nicholas Monroe of the United States, have a tough first-round encounter against 69th ranked Kevin Krawietz of Germany and 13th ranked Nikola Mektic of Croatia.
Round 1: Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (74) (IND)/Nicholas Monroe (65) (USA) vs Nikola Mektic (13) (CRO)/Kevin Krawietz (69) (GER).
15th seed Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan of India start their first-round campaign against Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. The Indian pair are expected to put in a spirited show and overcome the Spanish challenge and secure a spot in the second round.
Round 1: Rohan Bopanna (32) (IND)/Divij Sharan (36) (IND) vs Pablo Carreno Busta (84) (ESP)/Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (148) (ESP).
At 45 years of age, the mighty old horse of Indian tennis, Leander Paes, is still waging a battle and looks fit as ever as he teams up with Mexico’s Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela to compete in his 24th Australian Open event. The veteran, who won the event in 2012, will experience a tough opener against the combination of Austin Krajicek and Artem Sitak in the first round.
Round 1: Leander Paes (61) (IND)/Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela (58) (MEX) vs Austin Krajicek (42) (USA)/Artem Sitak (35) (NZL).
Rohan Bopanna would look to assert his place in the mixed doubles event at the 2019 Australian Open as well. After enjoying a successful outing last year with Hungarian Tímea Babos, where they had finished runners up, Bopanna would hope to secure the title this time around.
The fixtures have not yet been announced.