“If I can just be ready physically then the momentum will come” – Prajnesh Gunneswaran after his R2 loss at ATP Morelos Open

Prajnesh Gunneswaran is playing the American Challenger swing and lost his R2 match against the top seed Ernesto Escobedo at ATP Morelos Open, Mexico in a close fought match 7-6 6-4. We got a chance to speak with him after the match.

Well what are your thoughts on the match for today?

It was definitely a close match.

I think I should have won, I should have played a better game at 5-4 in the first set. Especially since I had 30 – 0 there. That was obviously a very important game. I should have won the set, especially in these conditions. When I served, I hit a good serve, I hit an ace when I got a point off the rally, I had all the momentum and the rhythm to win that game. I think that was just not good enough.

I had to find a way to step up to make sure I held that game and took the set away. Especially considering that I got the 2-0 lead in the second set. So if I’d been up 6-4 2-0, the momentum would have been with me.

That would have been pretty big. Unfortunately obviously I lost that set. Then even in tie breaker I made one bad decision at 2-4, when we switched sides. I hit a good serve and then I got a really short ball, I kind of reacted a little slowly on that and made a bad decision to play a chip on that. I should have either come in early, smashed it or hit a forehand, one of the two. I gave him a chance, and he put it in. So, I think that sealed the breaker for me there. Because if he was serving 4-3 there’s still a chance.

Once it was 5-2, it was pretty difficult to get back into that set.

Prajensh Gunneswaran in action (Picture Credits: Jayant Chowdhary)

I think you had the mini break as well.

Yes, I had the mini break and then I lost two points in a row there. So, a couple of points here and then the breaker plus 5-4 both, those games were important.

In the second set, there were way too many breaks of serve. I think the second set was just wasn’t enough quality, I missed a lot of first serves today. I picked direction well, but I kept hitting many in the net.

I felt I missed too many of the first serves today, which I wasn’t missing as many yesterday. I just feel I was a little bit off in terms of the toss. I wasn’t able to get the rhythm.

How is it playing in Mexico for you? You reached the final of the Monetary Challenger earlier this year, you played Fernando Verdasco, where you nearly beat him. You also qualified for Los Cabos here before, played against Taylor Fritz. What are your thoughts ?

I suppose, somehow, I’ve done well in Mexico, I like the conditions here. Morelos is different from both Los Cabos and Monterey. Los Cabos is bouncy. Its also not very high in altitude. Monterey is a few hundred meters, maybe similar to Pune.

This one is very different. One of the highest places (altitude), that I’ve played in. I like the conditions in Mexico in general. The weather is pretty hot. So usually the ball kind of flies quick and yeah, bouncy. I like that. I like high bouncing conditions. It’s good for my game and obviously a little bit different here because of the altitude but I think it was very good for my serve and I just didn’t make use of the conditions as well as I should have today.

I also remember that you mentioned in a previous interview with ITD  that after Davis Cup, your knee was bothering you a little bit. How is it now?

I don’t have any pain. I did a couple of weeks of rehab before I went to the US for the clay court  challengers. So it is better. I don’t really have any pain but I’m – let’s say borderline. I would say I’m very close to getting injured in the sense that I’m not very well prepared physically. So I feel I need to put in a little bit of work to make sure that I have my conditioning up to the mark.

I’ve lost some weight. I’ve lost some muscle, so I need to put in a little bit of time to build it up again and my wrist was also bothering me which is the main reason why I hadn’t been practicing as much. Then a part of that was the reason why my knee also started bothering me.

I didn’t have enough hours on court and then when I started, I did too much. I just need a little bit of time to put in the work, which will take four to five weeks.

I do feel the tennis is there. I feel I’m on the brink of pulling some of these matches and then I would get some momentum. So if I can just be ready physically then the momentum will come.

What is next ? Are you going to go back to Chennai and then prepare ? Are you going to train at the Waske Tennis Academy as well ?

I’m going to go to Waske to train there as well. Initially, I’m going to go home and maybe a couple of weeks at Waske towards the end before I start up again. I’ll probably do three or four weeks in India and a couple of weeks in Germany, depending on whether I get into Wimbledon or not. I know it’s borderline, unlikely. But in case I sneak in, I’ll go.

When you do train in Chennai do you have  specific training partners or do you just see whoever’s there at the time ?

Usually Manish, Dakshineshwar, Prithvi. There are a few guys in Chennai who are there and then Somdev is also there.

I do a lot of basket drills which is my routine, I serve and spend a lot of time doing my fitness. So it’s more about that rather than really hitting or doing any players.

Do you still work with Christian Boss for fitness and strength training ?

Yes, I do. He gives me a program and, that’s been the key for me, even in these situations where my knee wasn’t the best. He gave me the right program and connected me to the right person. He’s a very big part of my success and even my comeback. I’m always grateful that I have his support and he’s someone that is extremely good at what he does. I’m privileged that I managed to meet him early in life.

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