Tennis

Prajnesh falls to Mmoh

Pulling through: Ernests Gulbis had his task cut out Pedro Sousa.

Pulling through: Ernests Gulbis had his task cut out Pedro Sousa.  

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Gulbis overcomes a gritty Sousa in three sets

Prajnesh Gunneswaran endured a frustrating start to life as India’s top-ranked player on the ATP Tour, going down 7-5, 6-3 to American Michael Mmoh in the first round of the Tata Open Maharashtra at the Balewadi Stadium here on Monday.

There wasn’t much to separate the two in terms of rankings: Prajnesh is 110 to Mmoh’s 103. The two are training partners at the Alexander Waske Tennis-University in Germany. The first set, as a result, was decided by fine margins.

The Indian’s new-found confidence in taking control of the points, changing direction often and stepping more into the court was on display through the entirety of the set. It was just that Mmoh, with a flashier stroke, was equal to it.

Audacious drops

The 20-year-old American broke in the very first game, only to see Prajnesh level at 3-3 and confidently hold his next two service games. There was a fine pass to get to break point, that involved a full stretch to reach a near-perfect volley from Mmoh, and two audacious drops where the underspin was such that the ball died in an instant.

However, at 5-5, 30-30, Prajnesh’s unforced error proved costly. A well-constructed point ended badly, as he sent an easy forehand wide, with both the opponent and the court at his mercy. Mmoh broke through and then held to love to take the set. On the day, the 20-year-old would win 87% of his first serve points.

In the second set, Prajnesh wilted, as early as the third game when he found himself three break points down. The last of these was brought about by a moment of indecision when Prajnesh, with a chance to nail a forehand down the line, held back.

Mmoh came up with an excellent cross-court pass and was rewarded when the Indian netted a backhand subsequently. Prajnesh had reached a point of no return.

Stretched

Later on Centre Court, Latvian Ernests Gulbis came through a tough three-setter 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 over Portugal’s Pedra Sousa. The former ATP top-10 player had to dig deep, with Sousa, who came into the tournament following Marin Cilic’s pull out, proving a worthy competitor.

It took a seven deuce game at 4-4 for Gulbis to nose ahead in the first set before fortunes were reversed at a similar point in the second. Gulbis, though, secured an early break in the third and maintained it till the end.

The results (first round):

Singles: Michael Mmoh (USA) bt Prajnesh Gunneswaran 7-5, 6-3; Ernests Gulbis (Lat) bt Pedro Sousa (Por) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4; Steve Darcis (Bel) bt Roberto Carballes Baena (Esp) 6-3, 6-4; Evgeny Donskoy (Rus) bt Pablo Andujar (Esp) 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(6); Jaume Munar (Esp) bt Radu Albot (Mda) 6-2, 7-6(4).

Doubles: Gerard Granollers & Marcel Granollers (Esp) bt Nicholas Monroe (USA) & Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan 6-4, 6-4; Luke Bambridge & Jonny O'Mara (GBR) bt Purav Raja & Ramkumar Ramananthan 7-6(4), 6-3; Sriram Balaji & Arjun Kadhe bt Philipp Oswald (Aut) & Tim Puetz (Ger) 7-6(1), 4-6, [10-8].

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 12:33:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/prajnesh-falls-to-mmoh/article25874603.ece

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