Prajnesh looks at fresh targets after achieving career-best ranking

After soaring to a career-best ranking of 146, Prajnesh is now aiming to play the ATP 250 events in 2019.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran: "The first goal was to stay as close to 150 as possible since I would like to have a shot at playing the ATP 250 events in 2019."   -  PTI

Prajnesh Gunneswaran soared to a career-best ranking of 146 in the latest ATP rankings after finishing runner-up in the Ningbo Challenger in China last week.

However, the Chennai southpaw is not very excited about the 24-rung jump.

"I am quite happy that I made the top-150. But, it was not really a goal," Prajnesh said before adding, "I was already very close, just happened to get a bit higher."

Indian tennis is enjoying a purple patch right now with Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan also featuring in the top-150.

"The first goal was to stay as close to 150 as possible since I would like to have a shot at playing the ATP 250 events in 2019. It looks like I could potentially push for more. Just depends on how I finish the year," said Prajnesh, after winning his first round match in the $50,000 Challenger in Liuzhou, China.

Coach M. Balachandran who has been guiding Prajnesh along with Sriram Balaji for a few tournaments on the Tour now, assessed Prajnesh's progress.

Incidentally, Balachandran knows Prajnesh and his game well, having worked with him from the junior days.

"Prajnesh is playing more aggressively and winning points on his own, rather than being content to defend. He was outstanding in beating a tough player like Chung Yunseong of Korea with ease. The idea is to play sharp and not allow the game to become predictable for the opponent’’, said Balachandran.

READ| Prajnesh touches career-best 146, Yuki drops out of top-100

Prajnesh could break into the top-100 if he continues to play the way he is doing at the moment. "In the semifinal in Ningbo, he outplayed Momir Kecmanovic. The Serbian’s coach was so impressed that he told me that if Prajnesh played in the same fashion he would be among the top-70 very soon,’’ recalled Balachandran.

"Prajnesh has the advantage of being a lefty. He has a big serve and forehand, a flat backhand. Being a grinder, he can run down balls. It is a combination that is quite annoying for his opponents,’’ said the coach.

Prajnesh participated in the doubles last week where he reached the semis and will be playing doubles this week as well.

Asked if it was a conscious decision to sharpen his net game, Prajnesh observed, "I play doubles in the big Challengers. It does help my net game. But, I don’t want to play too many doubles as it would hurt my recovery for singles. I have improved as a tennis player and I am also getting better mentally. That is what is getting me the results."