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India's Prajnesh Gunneswaran qualifies for 2019 Australian Open main draw

India Today logo India Today 12-01-2019 India Today Web Desk

India's Prajnesh Gunneswaran has qualified for the main draw of the season's first Grand Slam tournament - Australian Open 2019, staring January 14 in Melbourne.

Prajnesh, ranked 112 on ATP men's singles charts and India's top-ranked player, came back from behind after losing the first set in a 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-4 against Japan's Yosuke Watanuki in the third qualifying round. The sixth seed had defeated Spain's Enrique Lopez Perez 6-3 6-3 in the men's singles second round.

Prajnesh will face world number 39 Frances Tiafoe from the USA in his maiden main draw match at a Grand Slam on Monday.

Prajnesh had been in fine form in 2018 as the 29-year-old from Chennai won two ATP Challenger titles, including the $150,000 event in Bengaluru. He had jumped 131 places after starting last year as the 243rd-ranked player on the ATP charts.

Prajnesh had an opportunity to make his Grand Slam main draw debut at last year's French Open. However, the lucky loser did not play the clay-court major as he had left to play a Challenger event in Italy.

Meanwhile, Prajnesh's compatriot, Ramkumar Ramanathan failed to qualify for the main draw after losing the qualifying second round to 7-5, 5-7, 6-7(6) world number 207 Rudolf Molleker of Germany.

Women's singles star Ankita Raina also exited the qualifying competition in the second round after a 6-4, 2-6, 4-6 defeat to Paula Badosa Gibert.

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