Prajnesh Gunneswaran, not an unlucky loser

Prajnesh Gunneswaran might have missed out on a chance to make his maiden Grand Slam appearance, but he maintains a winner’s attitude.

Prajnesh will next be seen in action at the €64,000 Challenger in Vicenza, Italy.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Playing in the main draw of a Grand Slam is a dream for every tennis player, and Prajnesh Gunneswaran is no exception. But, when faced with a tricky situation, of waiting for the unexpected bonanza, or go out and strive for more matches and points, he chose the latter.

Apart from the experience of playing the in the coveted main draw of a the French Open, the 28-year-old Prajnesh also missed out on a chance to pocket close to €20,000, which was guaranteed even if he lost the first round. In contrast, even if he wins the title in the €64,000 Challenger in Vicenza, Italy, he would only earn €9,200.

READ: Prajnesh forced to miss French Open despite making main draw

To be fair, the spate of "lucky losers" at the French Open, eight of them so far, with one yet to be named, was unprecedented. At the Australian Open, there were only two and both failed to win a round in the main draw.

Clay is a very demanding surface and players who are not physically ready cannot take a chance with competition, especially with the new rule in the Grand Slams this season, which says, "if in the opinion of the referee, the player did not perform to the required professional standard, the referee may determine that the player be subject to a
fine of up to first round prize money."

There is also a provision for "on site" withdrawal, certified by the tournament doctor, to be given 50 per cent of the first round prize money, without playing a match. The other 50 per cent would be given to the "lucky loser" if he loses the first round. Quite interestingly, the "lucky loser" will also collect the prize money from the qualifying draw, with the only stipulation that the total prize money would not be more than the
first round loser’s purse.

If the "lucky loser" wins the first round, it will only be the money from main draw. In effect, the Grand Slam board has protected the interest of the "lucky losers" and at the same time encouraged the direct entrants to be honest about their fitness.

Prajnesh got €21,000 for reaching the final qualifying round. So, even if he were to lose the first round of the main draw in Paris, he would have collected a minimum total of €40,000, which is the first round loser’s purse. However, he would have collected only 10 more ATP points. Now, in the Italian Challenger, he has stand a chance to claim 80 ATP points.

It is easy to be wise after the event. Professional tennis players have to handle so many things and have to take quick decisions. They may not be right all the time, but their decisions reveal their character and attitude.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran, for sure, has the winner’s attitude, not an "unlucky loser".