INDIAN STAR SUFFERS MORE GRAND SLAM HEARTACHE IN SHOCK MELBOURNE LOSS
by RONNIE RUFF
PRAJNESH GUNNESWARAN admitted he “could not get control of his mind” as his Grand Slam woes continued at the Australian Open on Tuesday (21).
The Indian star, 30, failed to win a set at a major for the fifth consecutive occasion, crashing to Japanese wildcard Tatsumo Ito 4-6, 2-6, 5-7 in the first round.
Gunneswaran said he played “a horrible match”, which was littered with 47 unforced errors. The loss meant he missed out on a dream second round clash with Novak Djokovic.
“Not many things went right for me. To be honest, it was a horrible match. Mentally very bad,” he explained. “I had no composure, I was very tentative and passive, and made loads of errors.
“I was not playing the ball but playing the situation. For whatever reason, I could not get control of my mind. Usually when this happens, I look to my serve or my forehand to get a little bit of rhythm, but that did not happen.”
Gunneswaran started off well enough, leading 30-0 on Ito’s serve twice in the first set and again in the second. The world number 123, however, could not convert those chances into games on the board, leading to another early Grand Slam exit.
He said: “At the beginning of the match, I wanted it too bad. Whenever I went up 0-30 or 15-30, I missed the ball. It’s not something I do very often as I’m usually solid when I get these opportunities. There were too many unforced errors today.
“I was a bit more relaxed in the third set after being two sets down. If I was relaxed from the beginning, maybe I would have played better. Everything I could have done wrong, I did.
“I finally broke in the third set but gave it away. Then he got net chords two games in a row, and that’s when I lost it. I feel like I’m letting it [Grand Slam matches] affect me more than it should. I need to get past that. I need to focus on changing that.”
This was Gunneswaran’s fifth straight appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam event having played in the Wimbledon, French Open and the US Open.
The loss ended India’s campaign ended in the singles event of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
In the men’s doubles, India’s Divij Sharan and his New Zealand partner Artem Sitak were due to face Spanish-Portuguese pair of Pablo Carreno Busta and Joao Sousa in the opening round, while Rohan Bopanna and Japanese Yasutaka Uchiyama were set to play 13th seed American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan.
In the women’s doubles, Sania Mirza and Nadiia Kichenok of Ukraine were drawn against Chinese duo Xinyun Han and Lin Zhu in round two.