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French Open 2018: Prajnesh Gunneswaran advances to the next round in the qualifiers

French Open 2018: Prajnesh Gunneswaran advances to the next round in the qualifiers
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By

Anjali Banerjee

Published: 22 May 2018 4:25 AM GMT
The second Grand Slam of the season, The French Open is almost upon us. The qualifying rounds have been underway  at the Stade-Roland Garros in Paris from yesterday.  For Indian Tennis, Prajnesh Gunneswaran was the only one among the three in men's singles who advanced to the next round while Ramkumar Ramanathan and Sumit Nagal faltered in their respective qualifying first round matches. 223rd-ranked Sumit Nagal had a tough opening round. Drawn against a seeded player, Martin Klizan from Slovakia, Nagal had an uphill task at hand given that his recent encounters on clay had been a dampener. The 117th-ranked Klizan on the other hand had been registering some incredible wins in the recent weeks.
Making it to the Quarter finals in Barcelona and taking 5 games from Rafael Nadal, Klizan also derailed the Former world no 1 Novak Djokovic and Feliciano Lopez in straight sets before losing to Nadal. Ramkumar, who was seeded 12th lost to World No 225 Jay Clarke in an hour and 51 minutes. The opening qualifying round match began with the Indian displaying some scintillating tennis. Taking the first set 6-4, the 20-year-old looked set to create an upset. But the Slovakian completely took over from the second set and ousted Nagal who squandered away a one set lead. Klizan thundered down 6 aces as against only 1 from Nagal. The Indian had 9 chances to break the Klizan serve of which he could convert only 3 whereas Klizan broke Sumit's serve 5 times to register a 4-6 6-4 6-1 win over the Indian. Nonetheless, it was a supreme effort from Nagal who looked much better on clay than he did in the past few weeks. He had lost his opening round match at the Braga Challenger two weeks back against Sergio Gutierrez-Ferrol and inflicted with three other first rounds defeats at the Ostrava Challenger, Francavilla challenger and Challenger Barletta before that.
India's second ranked Ramkumar Ramananthan also lost 3-6 7-5 1-6 against Britain's Jay Clarke in the opening qualifying round in Paris yesterday.
Ramkumar, who was seeded 12th lost to World No 225 Jay Clarke 3-6, 7-5, 1-6 in an hour and 51 minutes. Clarke and Ramkumar had met once in the 2nd round of the Bangalore Challenger in November last season where Clarke had defeated the Indian. In their second meeting, the Indian after dropping the first set came back to grab the second but failed to convert the chance as Clarke registered a brilliant 74% of first serve points won as against 58% of Ramkumar who could convert only 3 chances to break out of the 13 at his disposal.
Meanwhile Clarke broke the Indian 6 times and won a 54 % of total points. Ramkumar had lost his recent  match on clay in the qualifiers at Madrid against Pierrie-Hugues Herbert and also had failed to qualify in Instanbul. Davis Cup hero Prajnesh Gunneswaran who brought glory to India by helping secure a 3-2 win over China in the Asia/Oceania group 1 second round tie was flawless yesterday in his first qualifying round in Paris yesterday too. Gunneswaran beat Italian Salvatore Caruso in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 to enter the second round at Roalnd Garros. The left-handed Prajnesh, world no 183 recently broke into top-200 after winning Kunming Open Challenger in Anning, China. He also had a quarter-final finish at the Nanchang Challenger where he lost to Quentine Halys. His notable win was at the Davis Cup against China's rising star Wu Yibing. In the opening qualifying match in Paris, Prajnesh rained down 7 aces and broke Salvatore thrice. With a brilliant 74% of first serve points and a 55% of second serves, Prajnesh made no mistake in clinching the match defeating the 228th ranked Italian.
India's Yuki Bhambri has already got a direct entry into the Main draw of The French Open.
Lifting the $150,000 Santaizi Challenger in Chinese Taipei helped him reach his career-best ranking of 83 and thereby a ticket into the Main draw of the French Open.  Clay might not be his favourite surface but Bhambri looks confident as he gears up to play in the Main draw in Paris. In the past, he has played in the Australian Open main draw thrice. With his sizzling performances at the Indian Wells and Miami, Bhambri will now look to go full throttle in Paris and make use of this glorious chance again.
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