Prajnesh confident ahead of Wimbledon debut

The Indian faces a stern test first up against the big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic who made the final in 2016.

Impressive results ensured Prajnesh Gunneswaran got a direct entry into the Wimbledon.   -  K. V. Srinivasan

With the most awaited tennis event on the calendar starting on Monday at SW 19, India will yet again have only a solitary representative in the singles event with Prajnesh Gunneswaran playing his third straight main draw event of Grand Slam this year.

The 29-year-old from Chennai has made rapid strides in the last couple of years and qualified for his first Grand Slam earlier in the year at the Australian Open through qualifying before a series of impressive results on the Challenger circuit pushed him into the top 100 and ensured a direct entry into the French Open and Wimbledon.

However, the last few months have not been easy for the left-hander as he struggled with some shoulder injury that saw him not qualify for three Tour events since losing in the final of a Challenger in April, barring the French Open.

Finally, he had his first tour win over Janko Tipsarevic in Antalya, Turkey earlier this week before losing out to Italian Lorenzo Sonego in a tough three-setter.

Speaking to Sportstar, Prajnesh said, “It has been a tough couple of months with a shoulder injury. I was hoping to move up the rankings and unfortunately have not been able to. But going into this tournament, I feel good. This week too had a chance to go deep in the event but unfortunately couldn’t close out.”

The Indian, however, faces a stern test first up against the big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic who made the final in 2016.

“While personally now this is just another slam event, but growing up definitely you hear a lot about how big Wimbledon is in our sport and it feels good to be part of the event. I think I will also be playing in a slight bigger court with a good crowd. Obviously, he has done it a lot more times than I have, but if I can return well and take the game deep, then I will have my chances,” Prajnesh added.

The world number 95 said the shoulder injury meant his serve was affected and that was the main reason that led to the dip in form adding he goes into the tournament a lot more confident than he was before the French Open when he was nursing the injury.

“Compared to my first two Slam matches, I do feel more confident now because being here at this stage now feels more normal and you can now focus on just playing your game.”

In the latter half of the season, the Indian will also be defending a lot of points and has a couple of tour events in Newport, Atlanta following Wimbledon where is hoping to do well there so as to ease the pressure of defending points later in the year.

“If I can string some good results in the next few weeks, it will be easy. At the end of the day, you have to do well at the big stages to move up the rankings so let’s see how it goes.”

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