Prajnesh Gunneswaran withdraws from Australian Open wild card play-off

Prajnesh Gunneswaran says that he has a "slight abdominal strain" and does not want to aggravate the injury.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran poses with the trophy after beating compatriot Saketh Myneni in the final of Bengaluru Tennis Open 2018 (ATP Challenger Tour).   -  PTI

Prajnesh Gunneswaran could not put the icing on the cake, on his fabulous season, and has withdrawn from the Australian Open wild card play-off scheduled to be held in Zhuhai, China, from Tuesday.

Having jumped to a career-best rank of 104 on Monday, following back to back finals in the Challengers in Bengaluru and Pune, the 29-year-old Prajnesh said that he had hoped to go one up and ensure a main draw entry for the first Grand Slam of the season, but could not do so as he lost the final in Pune.

"I have a slight abdomen strain. I have chosen not to push it any further as I want to prepare for 2019," said Prajnesh.

Of course, technically Prajnesh may not be eligible to compete in the play-off as players ranked 105 and further alone would be allowed entry into the event.

However, as the points would be falling off, Prajnesh was accepted as the top seed in the play-off event.

"When the cut-off for Australian Open comes next week, my rank will be around 110. So, I will not get a direct entry into the Australian Open’’, said Prajnesh who had made the finals of an ITF Futures event around this time last year.

From winning the live fifth rubber against Yibing Wu of China in the Davis Cup, to winning two Challenger titles in Anning and Bengaluru, making the big Challenger final in Ningbo, to being so close to making the main draw of the French Open as a lucky-loser, to winning the Asian Games bronze medal, it has been a fabulous season for Prajnesh, who had stepped it up with an attacking style of play, rather than continue grinding from the back court.

"Am in a good position to push my ranking up. I have the whole of December to train. I think there are a lot of positives from the 2018 season. It is easy for me to have a lot of motivation, as I have made a big jump. I have the potential to keep going. Am looking forward to it," said Prajnesh.

Arjun Kadhe and Sidharth Rawat have gained entry into the main draw of the Australian Open wild card play-off in the latest list released on Monday.

Among the women, Pranjala Yadlapalli will aspire to fight it out in the main draw.

Mann Shah will be the top seed in the boys event.