Prajnesh Gunneswaran advances in Australian Open qualifiers

The top-ranked Indian came back from a set down

By Rahul Venkat

India’s top-ranked singles player, Prajnesh Gunneswaran went through to the final round of the qualifying stages of the upcoming Australian Open, beating against Germany's Yannick Hanfmann, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran was pushed on the backfoot very early in the first set and was trailing 0-5 at one point before he managed to pull back a game. However, Hanfmann did not give him a chance to launch a comeback, winning the set in the next game.

The second set saw Prajnesh Gunneswaran give the German a taste of his own medicine. Both players managed to win two games each but from thereon, the Indian, seeded 17th for the qualifiers, took his game to another level, winning four games in a row, including a tight seventh one, to take the set 6-2.

The 30-year-old, who had got past local hope, Harry Bourchier in the previous round, gained early ground in the final set, winning the opening game and almost won the second too, eventually conceding after a long rally. However, he did not let that affect his momentum as he won the next five games commandingly to cap off a roaring comeback.

The left-handed Gunneswaran will play Ernests Gulbis of Latvia on Friday for a place in the main draw that gets underway on January 20.

Nagal bows out to Safwat

Another Indian singles hope, 22-year-old Sumit Nagal suffered a straight-sets 6-7, 2-6 loss against Egyptian, Mohamed Safwat in the Australian Open qualifiers.

Nagal, who made headlines last year after playing the legendary Roger Federer in the first round of the US Open, even taking a set off him, competed well in the first set.

The 22-year-old lost out in the tie-breaker but could not quite keep it up in the second, being broken twice as Safwat wrapped up the match in some style. Safwat will next face Frenchman, Alexandre Muller.


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