Prajnesh Gunneswaran continued his superb run at the ATP Ningbo Challenger in China storming into the final on Saturday.
The Indian, seeded seventh, notched a strong 6-2 6-2 win over fifth seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia to set up the final clash with Thomas Fabbiano. The Italian third seed, who had beaten Sumit Nagal in the first round, beat Radu Albot 6-1, 6-3 in the other semi-final. The two haven’t met on the ATP circuit as yet.
Left-handed Prajnesh was dominating in his 6-2 6-2 win over Kecmanovic in the semifinal, which lasted just 64 minutes. Prajnesh served well and consistently made deep returns. He found winners on both flanks with ease, completely dominating the contest.
The 28-year-old was the only Indian left in the draw after early exits by his other compatriots and will back himself to win his second Challenger title after his good run of form throughout this week.
His semi-final win has ensured that he will reach a career-high ranking as he will break into top 150 in the ATP charts for the first time. He is currently world No 170 with a career best of 152 which he achieved in June this year.
He had beaten South Korea’s Chung Yun-seong in the quarter-finals, who had earlier beaten fourth seed Ramkumar Ramanathan and got the better of Egypt’s Mohammad Safwat before that.
China seems to hold a special place for Prajnesh as he achieved a stunning Davis Cup win there earlier this year. In April, he lifted his first ATP Challenger title at the Kunming Open in Anning, China as well to make it a breakthrough season for him.
In June, he qualified for his first ATP World Tour match, and stunned world number 23 Denis Shapovalov on debut. He had won a bronze medal at the Asian Games in August.
“I played a very good match today. I maintained good intensity throughout. It was one of my better matches for sure. I could execute my plan well and was focussed on maintaining my level throughout the match,” Prajnesh told PTI after his match.
Meanwhile in Antwerp, Sharan and Sitak too played an intense match but lost 5-7, 6-7(3) in the semifinal to Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in one our and 28 minutes.