7th seed and India No. 1, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, made things tough for himself after being a set and a break up, but managed to hold on for a 6-2 4-6 6-4 win against Germany’s Sebastian Fanselow in the 2nd round of the ATP Bengaluru Challenger.

When Prajnesh played Fanselow the last time here in 2018, he had to save a match point to come back and win. But he didn’t have to push himself to that extent this time, thanks to his superior game. Prajnesh talks about the changes he feels in his game since 2018, playing doubles with Sumit(Nagal) this week, his next match, and much more.

Prajnesh with Mr. Bhaskar Rao(Commisioner of Police, Bengaluru at the tournament inauguration (Credits – Deepthi Indukuri)

Q) You were a match point down against Fanselow the last time you played him here in Bengaluru in 2018. Did that play on your mind today?

Maybe a little bit in the beginning of the match. I did break him in the first game, which helped me a bit. But I wasn’t really confident thereafter either, and the first two service games I played were very shaky. But I settled down after a few games and it was fine thereafter.

Q) Was the sun bothering you at all on one end?

Not really. If the match went on for 15-20 more minutes, it might have been an issue. But it wasn’t today. 

Q) Do you think you are a better player than what you were the last time you played him?

Definitely. Even though I didn’t show it today, I feel I am a much better player now. Even on a day when I wasn’t playing my best tennis, I found a way to win. Also, my backhand is better now, and it helped in the match today. And obviously, I intend to keep that up.

Q) Where are you in terms of injuries, playing back to back tournaments now, given your recent wrist and elbow injuries?

I feel like my arm is okay now. I hit quite a bit of spin today and felt nothing in my hand. So that is good. The conditions are a bit different here. The ball jumps a little more and I failed to judge it well at times. I played a very loose game with four unforced errors to get broken back in the 2nd set, a short ball to the net, and a double fault. 

Prajnesh, ahead of his match, as Coach Balu Sir watches on(Credits – Deepthi Indukuri)

Q) You don’t play doubles a lot but you are playing here with Sumit(Nagal). Looking forward to it?

Yeah definitely. It’ll be a lot of fun. I’ve never played with him before, so we’ll see how it goes. We are primarily singles players, so we’ll go in with no pressure and play our games.

Q) Is the tag of defending champion playing on your mind?

Not really. Because it’s not happening in the same week, so I’m not defending points. So there’s no extra pressure because of that. Having said that, I obviously want to do as well as I can here.

Q) Thoughts on your next match against Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi?

I have no idea how he plays. So I’m going to have to go back and do a little bit of research on him.

Q) We saw you almost break your racket at one point in time. What happened?

Oh I was frustrated. I wouldn’t have obviously broken the racket, as I haven’t done that in a long, long time. But I guess I was just unhappy.

But at 15-40 in the third set, I liked how managed to save those break points. There was no saying “I’ll do it in five mins or seven minutes”. I had to do it right then, and I am glad I found a way. 

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