“We all know how good Fernando Verdasco plays. I have to be aggressive from the get go” – Prajnesh Gunneswaran

After the semis win over Go Soeda, Indian No. 2 Prajnesh Gunneswaran took time out to speak to ITD Volunteer after the match

ATP Monterrey Challenger, Mexico

[R1] (7) Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND,278) d. (WC) Ryan Harrison (USA,522) 63 64
[R2] (7) Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND,278) d. Alex Rybakov (USA,368) 76(1) 61
[QF] (7) Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND,278) d. (3) Jason Jung (TPE,223) 16 75 64
[SF] (7) Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND,278) d. Go Soeda (JPN,275) 67(7) 76(4) 64
[F] (7) Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND,278) vs. (1) Fernando Verdasco (ESP,150)

Thoughts on the match

It was a very close match. Go Soeda should have won the third set and I should have won the first set. I’m very glad that I pulled it through. 

Crucial stages in the match

I had too many chances where I didn’t convert from 0-30 15-40 which I let him get away with. I was up in the 1st set tie-breaker and gave away 2-3 free points. I wasn’t good in those situations but I was very good mentally in terms of staying in it and trying to put pressure and waiting for that opportunity when he makes a couple of mistakes. 

He had some patches where he was playing very well – no mistakes, some huge rallies where in the end of 20 shots, he would hit a winner. So that’s pretty special. Even on set point in the 1st set tie-break, I made him work a lot and then he still ended up winning that point. I could have been a bit more aggressive in the situation but still he had to make that many balls and put it away, so credit to him. 

I’m very glad that I got through this. It was a big challenge mentally for me today.

Being 1-4 down in the 3rd set – what were your thoughts?

It seemed a bigger lead than it was because it was only one break of service. I had been holding serve comfortably in general outside of that one service game. So I just told myself to focus and make sure that I don’t give away any more service games.

I knew that I would have some chances to break even though he had only two more service games to finish the match. I got my chance in an unlikely game where he was leading 30-0 but somehow I managed to get back to 30-30 and then there was pressure on him. I just played a good game at the right moment and managed to find my way back into the match.

At 3-4 I had a lot of pressure. That game was very close and it was big for me to hold onto that game. Go Soeda was leading in the set throughout and I thought if I got it to 4-4 after being 1-4 down, I would probably have a little bit more of the momentum. 

At 4-4, I played a very good game to get to 0-40 and make the break in that game.

You had a 2-2 H2H coming into this match. What was the game plan?

I was hoping that I would play earlier in the day where it was a little hotter and the ball bounces a bit more and flies a bit more which suits me, especially with my spin. It was pretty different at night, much colder. I felt my balls were falling a little too short. 

I didn’t come with a game plan. So I ended up having to figure things out during the match. I ended up having to run a little too much because of that. I played too many balls to the centre, too short and it helped him to dictate. I should have done better in that situation but I found my way through it. 

Tomorrow it’s an early match.So back to regular conditions it will be more sunny and bouncy. So it will be like every other match that I played this week except this one. 

You’ve been playing with a knee band. Can you share a bit more detail?

Yes my knee has been hurting a little bit since Davis cup. It was light pain over there but has started to act up a little bit more now. I’m just managing it and we’ll see how it goes after this week.

Given the tough last few months, your ranking has fallen quite a bit.So how important was this for you. 

It’s big. I haven’t had a lot of deep runs in a while now. It gives me a lot of confidence knowing that even though I’m not yet at my best, I am able to have this run.

I have my spin back and I think it makes a big difference and clearly I’m able to get the results when I have that and when the conditions suit me in a way. 

So a few things are going my way and I’m playing closer to my higher high level.

Thoughts on the final against Fernando Verdasco?

He is someone whom I have seen a lot on TV. We all know how good he plays and how dangerous he is and how much power he has in his game. 

It will be a big test for me. I have to come and be aggressive from the get go.

Thoughts on playing in Mexico? You have been there a couple of times.

I like Mexico, I feel very comfortable here. I have played a couple of times in Los Cabos and this is my first time in Monterrey. I have not gone around to explore but I have read on how it is a holiday destination. 

I will try to take some time at the end of this week and look around. 

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.

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