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Posted at: Jan 12, 2019, 7:00 AM; last updated: Jan 12, 2019, 7:00 AM (IST)AUSTRALIAN OPEN QUALIFYING

Prajnesh finally arrives

29-year-old is only third Indian in 5 years to qualify for singles event at a Major
Prajnesh finally arrives
Prajnesh Gunneswaran

Melbourne, January 11

India No. 1 Prajnesh Gunneswaran sealed his maiden appearance in a Grand Slam by qualifying for the Australian Open men’s singles event here on Friday. The 29-year-old from Chennai came from behind to beat Japan’s Yosuke Watanuki 6-7(5) 6-4 6-4 in the third and final qualifying round.

Gunneswaran is only the third Indian in five years to feature in the men’s singles main draw of a Grand Slam, the other being Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhambri. “It’s obviously huge for me. First time ever in a Grand Slam main draw, something I have always dreamt of. I am really happy, don’t have the words to describe it,” Gunneswaran said. “I am very proud that I stuck to it and put in all this work. I got here much later than most people do. I had the tennis to reach here. Now, I just need to rest and recover for the main draw,” he added.

The world No. 112 has secured himself AUD 40,000 (Rs 20 lakh) for winning three qualifying rounds and at least AUD 75,000 more (approx Rs 38 lakh) as main draw prize purse.

Talking about the match, Gunneswaran said, “It was nowhere near as good as I wanted it to be. I felt a lot of pressure from the beginning to the end. In between I got very defensive, attacked here and there. It was more a battle of nerves. The key was that I stayed mentally tough throughout and did everything possible to find a way to win.”

Gunneswaran will open his campaign against American world No. 39 Frances Tiafoe. — PTI

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