Prajnesh Gunneswaran kept India’s singles challenge alive at the Australian Open while Ramkumar Ramanathan and Ankita Raina went down in tough three-setters in the second round of qualifying on Thursday.
The India No 1, seeded sixth, beat Enrique López Pérez 6-3, 6-3 to advance to the third and final round of qualifying at the first Grand Slam of the year. Prajnesh was quick off the blocks and won the match in just 74 minutes. He had claimed an equally easy win over Croatia’s Victor Galovic in the first round and looks to be in good form.
The sixth seed will play Japan’s Yosuke Watanuki for a chance to play in the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time. He had qualified for the main draw of French Open in 2018 as lucky loser, but could not make it after leaving to play a Challenger.
Meanwhile, 21st seed Ramkumar had a tough fight on his hands against Rudolf Molleker of Germany, losing 7-5, 5-7, 6-7(6) in match that lasted over two hours. The Indian, who had reached the final round of qualifying last year, fired 22 aces and was better on first serve, but went down in the deciding tiebreak.
In the women’s singles qualifying, Raina was the last Indian left before bing beateb by 29th seed Paula Badosa Gibert of Spain 6-4, 2-6, 4-6. She won the first set but dropped the momentum to capitulate in the next two. Earlier, Karman Kaur Thandi had lost in the first round in what was her first Grand Slam campaign.