Match Report by Manoj Tolety and Yashwanth
Form guide for the match up
Having announced himself on the Pro Tour by reaching the top-70 as a 19-year old, Thanasi had to be out of tennis for more than an year due to injuries. He announced his return with the big win over Roger Federer this year. He was coming off losing in R1 in ATP WorldTour Mexico but had reached doubles final. In this challenger, he had 2 dominating wins to setup clash with Prajnesh.
Prajnesh on the other hand, had his breakthrough this year with the Anning Challenger title to follow up the crucial Davis Cup win. He had qualified into two ATP MDs back-to-back. He had two tough 3-setter wins to setup clash with Thanasi.
While Thanasi struggled with his first serve percentage and backhand, Prajnesh feeded on his good serving form (>70% first serves in) and strong ground strokes attacking Thanasi’s backhand to take the first set with a break of serve. As noted in the match highlights, Thanasi is a player, who feeds on lot of free points on his serve to get his overall game going. With a low first serve percentage (~55%), it was a difficult going for him.
Similar trend continued with Prajnesh dominance fetching him a 1-break lead. However, this is when the momentum started to shift with Thanasi’s first serve percentage shooting up to the mid-70s and him slowing down the game a bit to reduce the unforced errors. At a similar time, Prajnesh first serve percentage went down and Thanasi went on a hot streak to win 6 out of the next 7 games (from 1-3 down in second set) to take the second set.
It was see-saw battle in the 3rd set with one bad serve game from Prajnesh (double fault on break point) proving the difference in the 3rd set as Prajnesh lost the match 6-4 4-6 3-6.
After-match thoughts from brief QnA with Prajnesh Gunneswaran
Q: Why did you choose to receive despite winning the toss and having such a strong serve yourself?
A: No specific reason, just felt like receiving today.
Q: Did you feel like he slowing his game down in second set tilted the balance of the game?
A: I don’t think he did that to change up the game but more because he wanted to stop making unforced errors. I should have played more forcefully and not let him think that he could get away by playing a slower game like that but felt like I didn’t do it that well.
Q: Where are you headed next?
A: Going back to India to preparing for upcoming Asian Games / Davis Cup.
Me: You’ve got two more fans from now. Great game today, thanks for playing so well! 🙂