In-form Prajnesh Gunneswaran inched closer to his maiden Grand Slam appearance with another straight-set win but Ankita Raina and Ramkumar Ramanathan were ousted from the Australian Open Qualifiers after suffering narrow defeats, here Thursday. Prajnesh, seeded sixth, got the better of Spain's Enrique Lopez Perez 6-3 6-3 in the men's singles second round. "I played a better match than yesterday and remained solid throughout. I broke three times and there were not too many games where my serve was in danger. I played good mentally as well. I did the right things, attacked when I got chances. Looking forward to the final round tomorrow," Prajnesh told PTI. The world number 112 will next take on Japan's Yosuke Watanaki, ranked 192 in the world.
If Prajnesh wins tomorrow's match, it will be his first main draw competition at a Grand Slam. He unfortunately missed out on playing at 2018 French Open when as a lucky loser he made the main draw but since he had left Paris and entered a Challenger tournament, he missed out on the chance. Injured Yuki Bhambri had played in all four Grand Slam main draws in 2018.
Placed 132 in the world rankings, Ramkumar played a very close match before losing 7-5 5-7 6-7(6) to Germany's Rudolf Molleker, ranked 207.
"I served well in the match and had a break point at 3-3 in the final set but missed the backhand down the line. It was just a few inches wide. You have to take those chances," rued Ramkumar.
In the women's singles, Asian Games bronze medallist Ankita also had a one-set advantage but went down 6-4 2-6 4-6 to Spain's 29th seed Paula Badosa Gibert, world number 142.
"I tried to play attacking tennis but I felt I slowed down a bit in the second set. I was aggressive again in the third. But the girl (opponent) was serving big today which was the deciding factor," said Raina. The Australian Open will begin on January 14, with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic aiming to add to their record tally of six titles in this tournament. Federer has won this tournament in the last two years, winning in 2017 by beating Rafael Nadal and winning in 2018 against Marin Cilic.