Melbourne: India’s top ranked tennis player Prajnesh Gunneswaran missed out on a chance to compete against World No.2 Novak Djokovic as he crashed out of the Australian Open tennis tournament losing his first round singles tie against Japanese Tatsuma Ito, here Tuesday.
Ranked No. 122 in the world, Prajnesh, who entered the main draw as a lucky loser in the qualifiers, lost 4-6, 2-6, 5-7 to Japanese wild card ranked 22 places below him in a rescheduled first round tie that lasted 121 minutes.
“Definitely he (Ito) was a beatable opponent, good draw for me and for him as well because I was also not direct entrant. Since I had three matches coming into this contest, I was sharp in the setting but the nerves got better of me today, I was mentally off,” Prajnesh said after the match.
“I never really got calm, did not find my range, not composed and that made the most impact on the match. I still had a chance in the third set, I was a break up but I let that slip. He did a good job, did everything that was necessary,” added the Indian player.
This was Prajnesh’s fifth straight appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam event having played in all four Majors last year. He had qualified for the Australian Open in 2019.
In men’s doubles, India’s Divij Sharan and his Kiwi partner Artem Sitak will face Spanish-Portuguese pair of Pablo Carreno Busta and Joao Sousa in the opening round, while Rohan Bopanna and Japanese Yasutaka Uchiyama will play 13th seeded American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan.
In the women’s doubles, Sania Mirza and Nadiia Kichenok of Ukraine will take on Chinese combination of Xinyun Han and Lin Zhu in the opening round.
Returning to the court after a two-year maternity break, Sania had won the Hobart International title recently partnering Kichenok.