South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon has the final say against Prajnesh

Packing a punch: Soonwoo Kwon produced a perfect blend of attack and defence to prevail over Prajnesh Gunneswaran.

Packing a punch: Soonwoo Kwon produced a perfect blend of attack and defence to prevail over Prajnesh Gunneswaran.   | Photo Credit: R_Ragu

The Indian made to rue missed chances as the South Korean advances in straight sets

The Indian challenge in singles at the Tata Open Maharashtra ended on Thursday following Prajnesh Gunneswaran’s 6-3, 7-6(5) defeat at the hands of the South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon.

The India No. 1 displayed much attacking verve and constantly took up aggressive court positions. But Kwon, the tournament’s fourth seed, while being resolute in defence, also transitioned seamlessly into attack mode. On the day, he would hit one winner more than Prajnesh (22 to 21) and commit 12 errors fewer (35 to 47).

Trading breaks

The match started capriciously, with the two trading breaks in the first two games. Down a break-point at 2-3, Prajnesh dumped an easy overhead into the net. It was not long before Kwon won the first set 6-3.

“I lost that set pretty much because of that smash,” Prajnesh said later. “I started well. Broke rightaway, but missed too many first serves. I should have held that serve. I was a little bit rusty with my forehands. I missed a lot of cross-courts I used to open up the court.”

Better display

Prajnesh played a much better second set, staying with his opponent for the first eight games. But the World No. 88 upped his level in the ninth, earning mutiple break points.

But Prajnesh proved equal to the task by saving four of them before holding serve with an ace and an expansive forehand winner.

Swinging it his way

The match slipped into a tie-break and there Kwon outshone Prajnesh.

At 3-3, the 22-year-old hit an ace and then when Prajnesh sent a forehand wide, Kwon had the match on his racquet.

The Indian netted a backhand to give Kwon two match points and the South Korean took it on the second, putting away an easy forehand volley.

“I don’t think I played a bad match,” said Prajnesh. “I am not much better than him, but at the same time not much worse. So they were really small margins. But these are the kind of matches I should be winning consistently. Like, three... four matches in a row. I don’t think I am far away but I need to be more consistent.”

Italian shock for Paire

Top seed Benoit Paire turned in an abject performance to crash out in the first round. The World No. 19 lost 6-4, 6-4 to Italian Roberto Marcora, ranked a whopping 155 places below him.

Marcora broke in the fifth game of the first set to take it 6-4. He broke at a similar stage in the second but Paire came back immediately to restore parity. But Marcora broke again to 5-4 and saved two break points to emerge victorious.

The results:

Singles (second round): Soonwoo Kwon (Kor) bt Prajnesh Gunneswaran 6-3, 7-6(5); James Duckworth (Aus) bt Taro Daniel (Jpn) 6-7(4), 7-6(6), 6-3; Egor Gerasimov (Blr) bt Nikola Milojevic (Srb) 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.

On Wednesday: Doubles (first round): Benoit Paire & Antoine Hoang (Fra) bt Rohan Bopanna & Arjun Kadhe 3-6, 7-5, [10-7].

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 8:01:51 AM |

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