Weeks after climbing into the top 100, Prajnesh Gunneswaran continued his dream run with the biggest win of his career, beating World No. 18 Nikoloz Basilashvili, to enter the third round of the Indian Wells Masters.
The Indian was tested in a gruelling two-and-a-half hour match, which he won 6-4, 6(6)-7, 7-6(4) to set up a third round encounter against the big-serving Ivo Karlovic.
Prajnesh, who came through qualifying, had beaten a former top-20 player in Benoit Paire in the opening round and the 29-year-old termed the win against Basilashvili as one of his best.
“It was a very high-quality match and he showed why he is in the top 20,” Prajnesh told Sportstar . “I had a chance in the second set but couldn't convert it and he played better in the tie-break. I was so close to winning it in straight sets, so when it goes into the third set it is tough mentally to reset. But I am happy I was able to do that.
“In the first match, the conditions were windy and I don't think Paire played his best. But today he (Basilashvili) played at his best, so to beat him shows I can play at this level. Now the important thing for me is to do this on a consistent basis but this definitely is a milestone and one of my best matches.”
Explaining what he had done for this match, Prajnesh said, “I knew he was a guy with a powerful game so I had to be proactive and be aggressive to put him on the back foot. I was happy I could execute my plans.”
After a disappointing Davis Cup, Prajnesh had played three Challengers in which he reached the semifinals of two (Chennai and Bangkok). “I was drained mentally after the Davis Cup and was not at my best during the Challengers. But the fact was that I was able to make semis in two and in one I lost a close match without losing serve. So the results were not bad and it made me believe I can compete at this level consistently.”
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