It has been an encouraging return for Prajnesh Gunneswaran after tennis’ post-lockdown revival.
Reaching the semifinal of the Ismaning Challenger (Germany) on carpet, and following it up with a final last week in Cary (USA) on hard courts, hinted at the left-hander getting into his groove.
Coach Balachandran Manikkath was impressed by Prajnesh’s ability to eke out wins from tight situations.
“Against a big server like Jack Sock, Prajnesh was able to win the third set tie-break. In fact, he was up 5-2 in the third set and [was] serving for the match at 5-3. To be able to win at the end was special. In the next round, he was down 1-5 in the third set tie-break but won 7-5. Learning to win is a skill,” observed Balachandran.
Prajnesh flew into New York for the US Open but wasn’t able to play, despite being first on the alternate list, owing to the restrictions of the bio-bubble.
Yet, the 31-year-old was able to achieve quite a lot in the season and reach a rank of 137. “It was hard to miss the US Open like that. But, he got into the qualifying draw of Kitzbuhel in Austria and won his first match on return. That was a positive,” said the coach.
Balachandran, who has coached Prajnesh since his junior days, felt that once the left-hander got into his serving rhythm, he would hit a different level and win many more matches.
Prajnesh had gained with every outing in recent weeks, the coach said, and that winning matches had cleared a lot of self-doubts and given him clarity and confidence.
By setting high standards for himself and measuring his game against the best in the world, Prajnesh is keen to keep improving.