Sports

Prajnesh enters Australian Open main draw, may run into Djokovic in 2nd round

Indian tennis player Prajnesh Gunneswaran on Saturday sneaked into the Australian Open men’s singles main draw as a lucky loser and may run into world number one Novak Djokovic if he clears the first hurdle.

The Indian left-hander had lost the final qualifying round to Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis in straight sets but was fortunate to make the main draw as one of the direct entrants withdrew from the tournament.

It will be Prajnesh’s fifth straight appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam.

Last year also, the Chennai player had come through the qualifiers in Melbourne but made the cut at Wimbledon, French Open and the US Open owing to better ranking.

A good draw has put Prajnesh against Japanese Tatsuma Ito, ranked 22 places below the Indian at 144. This will be the first meeting of the duo.

The 30-year-old Indian now not only has the opportunity to win his maiden Grand Slam main draw match but also to set up a showdown with Serbian great Djokovic.

Prajnesh said he is not looking beyond the first round.

“I am very happy I got the Lucky Loser spot and I am only thinking about my first round now. I will try to make the most of it. Ito is a very good player. He was in top-100 and is experienced. I will need to play well to beat him,” Prajnesh told media.

At the 2019 US Open, Sumit Nagal ran into legendary Roger Federer and caused a few ripples by a taking a set off the Swiss.

The hard-working Prajnesh lost his top-100 rank towards the end of 2019 season as he suffered a few reversals, probably because of falling health of his father, who passed after losing a battle with cancer.

Nagal and Ramkumar Ramanathan had failed to enter the main draw as both of them lost in the qualifiers.

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