Prajnesh Gunneswaran upbeat despite first round exit

The 28-year-old India No. 1 crashed out on Monday, but is determined to stick to the new approach and build his arsenal to keep improving his rankings.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran is keen to add to his arsenal and work on the changes to his play.   -  R. Ragu

It was a sour start to the season for the country’s newest No. 1 player as Prajnesh Gunneswaran exited in the first round of the Maharashtra Open on Monday.

The World No. 110, who started 2018 ranked 243 before reaching a career-high 104 in November, came into Pune on the back of a season where he won two Challengers and picked up a bronze at the Asian Games.

Despite that, Prajnesh – before the match against Michael Mmoh – spoke about the need to add more to his arsenal, adding to the aggressive side of his game by being stronger at his net game and consciously choosing to hit the ball flatter than usual.

While he wasn't as comfortable as he hoped for with the change in style, he is upbeat about the year to come as he continues to work on the changes to his play.

"I made too many mistakes through the match, didn't make good enough returns. I know how to play flat but I never did because I know it is high risk. And I feel this is the right way for me to go up."

Prajnesh Gunneswaran

 

Speaking about his defeat to Michael Mmoh, he said, "It could be a combination of this being my first match. I usually play with a lot of spin, which protects me from making errors. But I took more risks today, in the sense that I played a lot flatter. I think I executed what I wanted to, not as well as I would have liked."

"Today there was a chance when he was bit tighter and had I slowed down and rallied, he would have made mistakes. I used to do that a lot and it did give me a lot of success but I think this is what I want to do. It cost me the match today but it is what it is."

The 28-year-old, though, is determined to stick to the new approach even if it costs him a few games.

REPORT| Mmoh sends Prajnesh packing

"I made too many mistakes through the match, didn't make good enough returns. I know how to play flat but I never did because I know it is high risk. And I feel this is the right way for me to go up," he said.

Mmoh, who trains at the same academy in Germany as Prajnesh does, spoke of knowing each other's games very well and the need for Prajnesh to get better with the change in style.

"I know his game well, maybe it did (help). There were no surprises. But it was the same thing for him. And there were some opportunities where he could have come to the net. I don't think he is comfortable with it yet. But it's good for him because he has so much potential, so much room for improvement."

Mmoh, who is also making subtle changes to his game, spoke about the difficulties of doing so in the first game of a season.

"Usually I am not as defensive as I was today. I am working on being more aggressive and the first match of the season is never easy. As the games go by, I will get better at my aggressive game," he said.

While Mmoh turns his attention to a round-of-16 game against Steve Darcis – who defeated sixth seed Roberto Baena, Prajnesh will hope to fine-tune his game before the Australian Open qualifiers come knocking.