“I have to just go out there, be smart and stay focused from the start to the finish” – Prajnesh Gunneswaran on his 1st round tie against Ito

As Prajnesh Gunneswaran made it to the Australian Open main draw via the lucky loser path, Kshitij caught up with Prajnesh to get his thoughts on the tourney so far, the upcoming tie and his thoughts on making it to the 5th Grand Slam main draw in a row.

Thoughts on the final qualifying round

I played pretty well till 4-3 and after that I dropped my level and played a loose game to let him back into the match. After that, I did not play with the right composure. I played ok to get to the tie breaker and then in the tie break, I miss two early points and then he quickly wrapped up the tie break.

He also didn’t make too many errors. I didn’t played tactically smart. I played into what he liked, was not getting the desired sort of result and I then kept doing the same thing over and over again which was not smart. When I wasn’t making much progress, I lost the plot and then with that the focus.

Gulbis is a former top 10 player and Grand Slam semi-finalist. Did that play in your mind at all?

Not at all. It doesn’t really matter because I am invariably going to be running into good players at this level.  So I am not surprised when I play someone who has done something in a slam.

You had a brief altercation with Gulbis. Can you explain more, did that impact you in any way?

Nothing big. It was just really – he said something about the lines and I got involved and I probably should have just kept quiet as it may have impacted me a bit. Not in the sense that I was upset about it but that I did not have the same rhythm after that and that is on me because I didn’t need to have got involved. It wasn’t something really big though.

It was just the heat of the moment. At that time, it felt like everything was fine and that whatever the outcome was determined purely by my tennis. In hindsight, it is possible that maybe my rhythm went off a little bit but then that was on me because he wasn’t really talking to me to start with so I’m the one to get involved in the conversation.

How are your wrist and elbow feeling now, better or worse?

Better! I have been taking some precautions, so it is feeling better and hopefully by Monday, it will feel even better.

You are drawn against Ito, who had trained at the same academy as you. Your thoughts on the match up as you probably both know each others game really well.

Yes, it will be an interesting match. It is a 5-set match. He is also quite experienced at this level and has been doing this for a while. So I have to just go out there and be smart, stay focused from the start to the finish, be efficient and hopefully the match will be in my favour. 

This is your fifth Grand Slam main draw in a row, a rare feat for an Indian singles player. How does that feel?

Little lucky! At the end of the day, I did not really qualify but still made it in. So it’s pretty cool. I am happy that I am in another main draw. I hope to do well here, make a breakthrough and then continue to keep playing main draws.

What are your plans for the immediate next few weeks and beyond? Pune, Bangalore?

I am going to be playing Pune and Bangalore. In general I am not worried about the stuff beyond as my immediate focus is on doing as well as possible on Monday.

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