After putting up a spectacular display against China's Wu Yibing to take the India World Group play-off stage of the Davis Cup, Prajnesh Gunneswaran is back in the headlines after clinching his first ATP Challenger Tour title on Sunday.
The 28-year-old from Chennai defeated Egypt's Mohammed Safwat 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 to win the Kunming Open in China. “I am as happy as I can be. It's one of the biggest tournaments I could have won,” an elated Prajnesh told Sportstar from Anning.
Prajnesh picked up 125 valuable ranking points, which is likely to propel him to a career-high 175th spot on the ATP rankings to be released on Monday. “The win takes me pretty high in the rankings and I'll be cracking the top-200 for the first time. I'll now get to play the French Open and Wimbledon qualifiers for sure, and maybe even the US Open qualifiers. It couldn't have gone better in terms of results,” he continued.
When asked if it was an emotional win for him, given that he spent close to five years treating injuries to his knees, he quipped, “If I had been playing regularly and it took me 10 years of competing on the circuit to win my first Challenger title, then I would have been more emotional about it. But at this point, I've been on the circuit only for a few years after the injury. I'm really happy with the win but I always felt I could achieve this."
He was also quick to add that he doesn't see his age as a barrier. “I don't think the age matters, I mean look at the guys at the top now, they're all way older. Nowadays, a lot of top-100 guys are over 28-29 years of age. I think it's just about understanding how to find the balance between playing the right number of tournaments and how physically to play. It basically involves a change in your game and adapting and understanding how long you can sustain,” he remarked.
Serbia Davis Cup tie a big challenge
Prajnesh's rise in rankings will make him the third Indian in the top-200 after Yuki Bhambri (83) and Ramkumar Ramanathan (115). This will be of particular significance to the Indian Davis Cup team, as it braces for a World Group play-off clash against Serbia in September. “It's definitely going to be a very difficult tie as they have four players in the top-100. We're going to have to really play well to have a chance and hopefully we can do so,” he said.
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