“It was purely a case of me not staying at the same high level throughout the whole time. Everytime I dropped my level, he punished me” – Prajnesh Gunneswaran on the match against Raonic

Prajnesh Gunneswaran lost the match against Milos Raonic in R1 at the Wimbledon Championships in straight sets 67 46 26.

Milos and Prajnesh shared their thoughts on the match in their respective press conference sessions. Transcript below

Can you talk a little about your opponent today. Did you know anything about him before the match? Had you ever seen him? Did he surprise you in any sort of way?

MILOS RAONIC: I knew as much as I could. There was about four matches of his that I could really get information on this year; his three matches in Indian Wells, one match in Miami actually, and one match in Australia. I got to see quite a bit of what he does. I got to see the stats on that, as well.

Obviously it’s different when you don’t hit any balls with him, that kind of thing, to really get a sense of how his ball bounces, especially considering that he’s a lefty. Adds another dynamic to it for me.

I prepared as best as I could, worked my way into the match, got more comfortable as it went on.

Your assessment of the match

PRAJNESH GUNNESWARAN:I played pretty good overall. There were a few lapses in concentration, in the first game of the 2nd and the 3rd sets, which sort of determined the outcome of the match. I wasn’t at my best in the tie-breaker. 

The plan was to try and neutralize his serve and I did a good job there. I got enough break points considering how well he serves in general. I had enough chances but could not convert them. 

Giving an early lead in both the sets for someone who serves like him was a killer. It gave him the cushion to go for a bit more on his serve in terms of pace and aces, making it more tougher to return. 

I gave him those breaks purely because of my doing. It was not like Milos stepped up his game to get those breaks – it was just 2 loose games from my end. It happens. I just have to keep doing what I am doing and hopefully the lapses become less and less, so that eventually I put myself in position to win these matches instead of just getting close. 

You had gap over the last few weeks due to injuries. How much of a factor was that?

PRAJNESH GUNNESWARAN:I wasn’t rusty. There have been days where I’ve served better than this but I don’t think I’ve served bad. I played well enough from the baseline for it to not matter. It was purely a case of me not staying at the same high level throughout the whole time. 

Everytime I dropped my level, he punished me. That’s about it. 

Note on your serve. 

PRAJNESH GUNNESWARAN:It was above average. There are days where I’ve served better while there have also been days where I’ve served worse – even during the days where I was not injured. So serve was fine. 

Can you share a bit more detail on the Pat Rafter email piece (reference)?

PRAJNESH GUNNESWARAN:I was a big fan of his then and happened to create an email id with his name. I still have it but don’t use it for any official purpose. There are some people, probably from my school, who may have that email id but nobody contacts me through that. That’s about it. 

Anything that you would change on how you approached this match. It was your maiden Wimbledon appearance. Would you have changed anything?

PRAJNESH GUNNESWARAN:Not really, I played a really good player. I played a good match. It wasn’t like the French Open where I didn’t feel comfortable and played a really horrible match. 

Here it was completely different. I was in the match and had lot of chances but could not convert them. Facing such quality players, I want to put myself in a situation to play against these quality players more regularly. 

If I have to be at this level, then it means that I have to beat these guys and go through them. If it means that I have to take a few beatings to get that level, then so be it. 

Did you feel at certain points of the match that no matter what you did, your opponent had the extra gear to lift his game to another level. 

PRAJNESH GUNNESWARAN:Not really. He was trying really hard to break me in the first set. From the baseline, I was definitely winning more points. I had similar number of break point chances as him too. He did not ace me too many more times than I aced him. 

Generally it was pretty similar. For someone like him to be involved in as many baseline rallies is not a good thing. It means that I making more returns, indulging in a rally which means more opportunities for myself. 

I missed a few break points. There were times when he raised his level but I felt that happened only because I let him. When I had my foot on the pedal, it did not feel to me like he had anything more special. 

When he got the lead, he was swinging more. That’s how it is for everyone when they have a bit of an advantage. They loosen up and start to go for the shots. 

First game of the second set. Do you think you lost the match there?

PRAJNESH GUNNESWARAN:To see me play such a bad game where he just put the ball in and I make the errors and break me like that. For someone like him, it would give the feeling that I just need to stay with him and he would give me chances. I ended up doing exactly that in both the sets. 

Last time you played such a big server (Karlovic at Indian Wells), you really struggled to return the serves. It was much different this time. What changed?

PRAJNESH GUNNESWARAN:Karlovic is a lot taller than Raonic. The difference in the height where the ball comes and where you receive – it makes a big difference. On Grass, the bounce is also a bit lesser. So today it was mostly about dealing with Raonic’s pace and accuracy which I think I did a good job. 

On hard, it is a bit different as the court takes the speed of the big servers. Sometimes the ball just shoots. 

Additionally, my legs were also much fresher this time as I had played 4 matches in the lead-up to the Karlovic match. It makes a huge difference because if you are a split second slower, the ball is gone. 

For example, in the third set, in one of the games – I was a split second slow and it went like ace, ace and ace. 

Davis Cup vs Pakistan – Your thoughts on playing there. 

PRAJNESH GUNNESWARAN:I haven’t spoken to anybody yet. It’s something to be discussed. 

At this stage of your career, considering what you want to achieve – does Davis Cup fit into the scheme of things?

PRAJNESH GUNNESWARAN:Obviously, it makes it a bit more complicated with the Olympics coming up next year and how much I have to defend considering that I have not had a great summer in terms of making points. 

If my target is to remain in the top-100 and climb further, then those 2 weeks can make an impact. However, at the end of the day, playing for your country is always special. I want to do everything possible, to be able to do that. 

If I were No.4 or No.5 in India and given this opportunity, I would be thrilled. So nothing should change because I am no.1. 

Indian based in the Alps region. Works for an IT firm during the weekdays und auch lernt Deutsch. On the weekends, he can be traced somewhere in the Mountains or on backpacker trips. Is a Social Worker / Activist with a deeper interest for Indian / Swiss tennis from the past year.

1 Comment

  1. It’s amazing achievement from our tennis players whoever reached even top 500. I salute to all tennis parents from bottom of my heart who put so much of effort, time, planning, sacrifices & above all finances. And running hard from pillar to post to get some help in shape of good coach, fitness expert, physio, guidance and last but not the least sports authorities. They are restless as much as a player. No one can understand what requires to develop a tennis players & what stress they go thru apart from tennis fraternity. There is so much to talk about but it’s all in vain since it’s again a individual choice to play or develop a player.

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