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Asian Games 2018: With bronze, Prajnesh Gunneswaran finally makes his mark

Prajnesh Gunneswaran settled for a bronze after losing 2-6, 2-6 to Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin in a semifinal that was much more competitive than what the score-line might suggest at the Asian Games 2018.

asian games 2018 Updated: Aug 26, 2018 09:31 IST
Avishek Roy
Avishek Roy
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Asian Games 2018,Prajnesh Gunneswaran,Prajnesh Gunneswaran Tennis
Prajnesh Gunneswaran poses with his bronze medal during the medal ceremony at the Asian Games 2018.(PTI)

At 28, Prajnesh Gunneswaran is only getting better. From being a mere journeyman in Indian tennis, the Chennai player has suddenly pitched himself as one of the hottest prospect in men’s singles. The recent months have been nothing short of a dream sojourn for him and it continued when he climbed the podium with a bronze medal in Palembang on Saturday.

A stunning performance in Davis Cup in China, beating world No. 28 Denis Shapovalov in Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart and reaching a career-high of 152, the left-hander is enjoying his moment under the sun. He could not play in the US Open qualifiers as dates clashed with Asian Games but Prajnesh has no regrets. “I am very happy to win a medal for the country. I never thought I would participate in a multi-disciplinary event and return with a medal for the country,” he said.

In fact, Prajnesh was India’s No. 2 player in the singles competition and after the early exit of Ramanathan Ramkumar, pressure was on him. He played two long matches and fought back Soonwoo Kwon of South Korea in a marathon three-hour match in the quarter-finals.

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“The quarter-final could have gone either way and I was badly cramped. The weather is such that it was difficult on the court but when you are playing for your country you forget about everything else. I was a match point down but kept fighting. I was wasting chances also. But then rain came and I got a break of 30 minutes which helped me recover.

Not being able to recover enough from those cramps may have played a factor in his semi-final loss. “I was drained out after the win in the quarter-finals and Denis Istomin was at his best,” said Prajnesh.

Prajnesh said he has not set any goals but wants to keep moving forward. “I am happy that finally everything is falling in place in my career. I have not been able to play full seasons because of injury but now I am able to do that. I need to just keep moving forward and go as high as possible in rankings.

“I like playing for the country because you get so much motivation around. I guess it always gives me that bit of energy to fight. Here also the team was egging me on and I was riding on their energy.”

First Published: Aug 26, 2018 09:31 IST