Prajnesh Gunneswaran continued to show that he can compete at the highest level of international tennis as he defeated Britisher Jay Clarke 6-4, 6-4 in the last qualifying round of the Miami Open to reach his second consecutive main draw of an ATP 1000 tournament on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old, who had reached the third round of the Indian Wells tournament, will now take on Spain’s Jaume Munar in the opening round.
Prajnesh, who reached a career high ranking of 84 in the latest list, was completely dominant in the one hour 30 minute encounter as he broke Clarke’s serve in the very first game. And once he saved two break points against him in the next game, he never looked back.
The Indian’s service game was so strong that he did not face any more break points in the match as he bagged 79% of the first serve points and 72% on the second serve.
The Asian Games bronze medallist also started the second set with a break and then sealed the match with a love hold to make it to the main draw.
If Prajnesh manages to clear the first round hurdle, he will face Wimbledon runners up Kevin Anderson in the second round.
Raina, Paes lose
Elsewhere, India’s Mukund Sasikumar lost in the men’s singles second round of the ATP China Challenger on Wednesday. He went down 5-7, 4-6 to France’s Mathias Bourgue.
India No 1 Ankita Raina, too, tasted defeat. The 26-year-old lost to unseeded Momoko Kobori 6(3)-7, 4-6 in a women’s singles second round match at the $25,000 ITF event in Kofu, Japan.
Raina also lost in the women’s doubles quarterfinal on Thursday. She paired up with England’s Emily Webley Smith and lost to the Taiwanese pair of Hsu Ching-Wen and Chang Kai-chen 2-6, 2-6.
Veteran Leander Paes was the other big Indian name to bite the dust on Wednesday. The 45-year-old lost in the opening round of the the ATP Challenger event Lille, France. Paes and his Austrian partner Philipp Oswald lost 6-1, 3-6, 4-10 to the Spainish pair of Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and David Vega-Hernandez.
N Sriram Balaji reached the men’s doubles semi-final at the ATP Challenger event in Zhangjiagang, China.
The 29-year-old paired up with Mexican Hans Hach Verdugo to earn an impressive comeback win over the Chinese pair of Zhang Zhizhen and Runhao Hua 3-6,7-6(4), 10-5.
Balaji and Verdugo will now face Hsieh Cheng-peng and Christopher Rungkat on Friday for a spot in the final.