Mercedes Cup 2018: Prajnesh Gunneswaran to meet Denis Shapovalov after qualifying for main draw
Indian tennis star Prajnesh Gunneswaran qualified for the main draw of the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart on Sunday, thus continuing his recent good run on the circuit. The 28-year-old, who is currently ranked 183rd, beat the World No. 207 Christian Harrison 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in the final round of qualifying at this ATP 250 grasscourt tournament, that serves as a Wimbledon warm-up event.
The win has ensured that the Indian southpaw will play in the main draw of an ATP World Tour level event for the first time in his career. In the first round, Gunneswaran has a tough job as he takes on the sixth seed and World No. 23 Denis Shapovalov. The left-handed Canadian, all of 19, is one of the fastest-rising youngsters on the Tour and already boasts of a win over Rafael Nadal.
Gunneswaran earned success on five out of the nine break points that he got in his win over Harrison. He dropped serve thrice, two of which came in the second set.
A day earlier, the Indian had needed just 1 hour 2 minutes to get the better of World No. 198 Evan King 6-1, 6-4 in the first round of qualifying.
The Indian has been making rapid strides for the last few months. He helped India book a place in the Davis Cup World Group play-offs by bringing home the win in the final rubber against China in April.
He followed it up with his maiden ATP Challenger title win in Kunming and then became the only Indian to reach the final round of qualifying at the French Open last month. Gunneswaran even got a chance to be in the main draw when Nick Kyrgios withdrew, but, by then, he had already left Paris to play the main draw of a Challenger tournament in Vicenza, Italy.
While Gunneswaran soared, things didn’t turn out to be good for the other Indian in action last weekend. The India No. 1 women’s singles player, Ankita Raina fell 0-6, 4-6 to Australia’s Naiktha Bains in the first round of qualifying at the Nottingham Open. Bains is more than 150 places below the 203rd ranked Raina.