India’s top-ranked tennis player Prajnesh Gunneswaran on Saturday (January 18) made his cut into the Australian Open men’s singles main draw as a lucky loser after one of the direct entrants withdrew from the tournament.
The Indian left-hander, who had lost the final qualifying round to Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis in straight sets but was fortunate to make the main draw, may run into world number 2 Novak Djokovic in if he clears the first hurdle.
It will be Prajnesh’s fifth straight appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam.
Last year also, the Chennai player had come through the qualifiers in Melbourne but made the cut at Wimbledon, French Open and the US Open owing to better ranking.
A good draw has put Prajnesh against Japanese Tatsuma Ito, ranked 22 places below the Indian at 144.
He not only has the opportunity to win his first Grand Slam main draw match but also to set up a showdown with Serbian great Djokovic.
At the 2019 US Open, Sumit Nagal ran into legendary Roger Federer and caused a few ripples by a taking a set off the Swiss.
The hard-working Prajnesh lost his top-100 rank towards the end of 2019 season as he suffered a few reversals, probably because of falling health of his father, who passed after losing a battle with cancer.
Nagal and Ramkumar Ramanathan had failed to enter the main draw as both of them lost in the qualifiers.
(With inputs from agencies)