In his first ever appearance at an ATP World Tour main draw, India’s Prajnesh Gunneswaran stunned world No 23 Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 6-2 in the opening round of the Merceden Open in Stuttgart, Germany on Wednesday.
Prajnesh, who recently reached his career-best ranking of 169, needed an hour and 48 minutes to upset the Candian sixth seed and progress at the grass-court event, which also marks the return to action of Roger Federer after his enforced break.
The 28-year-old from Chennai will next play world No 75 Guido Pella in the round of 16 before a potential meeting with Federer in the quarter-final.
The left-handed Prajnesh, who missed out on playing his maiden Grand Slam at Roland Garros, has had a good season thus far, winning his maiden singles Challenger trophy apart from an ITF Futures title before the biggest win of his career.
On Wednesday, Prajnesh rode on his impressive first serve numbers against Shapovalov, getting 71% of his first serves in compared to the Canadian’s 53%. While both players faced plenty of break points on their own serve, Prajnesh converted 5 out of the 10 came his way, compared to 4 out of the 8 by Shapovalov.
Prajnesh had qualified for the singles main draw of an ATP World event for the first time in his career when he defeated Christian Harrison in the final round of the qualifiers. He was supposed to play Shapovalov on Monday but rain delays in Stuttgart meant he had to wait till Wednesday for his first match.