India’s Prahjnesh Gunneswaran defeated higher-ranked Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan over straights sets 6-4, 6-4 to reach the second round of Australian Open qualifiers here on Monday.
World No. 221 Prajnesh beat 119th ranked Galan in one hour and 13 minutes in the first round at court number six of the Melbourne Park.
“It was pretty good match. It’s a good start here. I returned really well, better than the last few months and I am looking forward to continuing the momentum,” Prajnesh told PTI. “Overall, it was a high-quality match. He also played quite well. The last couple of games were crucial. Somehow I got out of breakpoints and finished it off.”
He will next take on Germany’s Maximilian Marterer, who beat Croatia’s Nino Serdarusic 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in his opening round.
Prajnesh hit a crushing backhand winner from the middle of the court to open up a break opportunity in the third game of the opening set and converted the second chance with a deep return that Galan sent on the net with his forehand.
With similar style and strategy, both the players were trying to make deep returns and dispatched the short balls for easy winners. It was about who did it more consistently. Prajnesh’s better service games stood him in good stead. The break stayed with the Indian and he served the opening set at love.
Prajnesh then broke his rival in the very first game of the second set. At 30-30, Galan hit a backhand wide and then failed to put the ball across the net on breakpoint.
The Indian southpaw made it 2-0 when Galan hit a forehand on the net, although Prajnesh made it a bit difficult for himself, letting his rival take two points after going up 40-0.
Prajnesh found himself down a breakpoint when he was serving for the match as he hit a forehand long at 30-30 but saved that with a good serve. Again, he hit a forehand soaring over the baseline with nerves perhaps getting the better of him. However, he saved that break chance too with a booming serve.
He eventually, finished the match with an easy winner in open court with Galan stranded on one flank of the court.
Ramkumar Ramanathan and Yuki Bhambri are also in contention and will open their respective campaigns in men’s singles qualifiers on Tuesday, while Ankita Raina will make yet another to crack women’s singles main draw.
(Reported by PTI)