Indian Wells: Ivo Karlovic halts Prajnesh Gunneswaran's dream run

India's Prajnesh Gunneswaran's went down 6-3, 7-6 in an hour and 13 minutes

Prajnesh Gunneswaran is expected to gain at least 10 places in the ATP rankings after defeating two higher-ranked opponents at Indian Wells.   -  M. VEDHAN

India's Prajnesh Gunneswaran's dream run in his maiden ATP Masters was ended by 40-year-old Ivo Karlovic in the third round of BNP Paribas Open on Monday. The Indian went down 6-3, 7-6 in an hour and 13 minutes.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran had two breakpoint opportunities in the first set, but big-serving Ivo Karlovic saved them both to stay on course for a maiden appearance in the fourth round at the Indian Wells. Prajnesh would go on to save a break point in the third game of the second set, but gave an early lead in the tiebreaker and faltered at the end.

READ: Vijay Amritraj: I think Prajnesh is poised to be in top-50

The Croat fired 16 aces and came up with 35 winners to emerge the winner.

Prajnesh, who came through qualifying and had only recently broken into the Top 100, had beaten a former top-20 player in Benoit Paire in the opening round before registering an upset win over World No. 18 Nikoloz Basilashvili to enter the third round.

“It was very difficult to return his big serve. I had some chances, I did not take them and that’s pretty much what decided the match,” Prajnesh, ranked 97, said as he could not convert any of the two break chances.

It was Prajnesh’s maiden appearance at an ATP Masters event and he bagged 61 ranking points with his stupendous effort, which will catapult him to new career-best rank of 82.

“Overall, it was very good run. I am confident I will be able to do this again. Obviously time will tell. Over a period of time I should be able to deliver such results consistently. I am not sure if it will always be at the Masters, or a 250 (tournament) or a Grand Slam. I hope it happens at the bigger events”

“At the end of the day, If I am consistently competing against these players and finding success then I am on the right track,” said the Chennai player, who earned a prize purse of USD 48,775.

Meanwhile, India’s Rohan Bopanna and his partner Denis Shapovalov bowed out of the doubles after a 6-4, 1-6, 8-10 defeat against Novak Djokovic and Fabio Fognini in the second round.

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