India’s top tennis player Prajnesh Gunneswaran suffered a first-round exit from the Australian Open on Tuesday. He had qualified for the main draw of the Grand Slam as a lucky loser but failed to make it count as he lost 4-6, 2-6, 5-7 to Tatsuma Ito of Japan.
The left-hander, who was the only Indian in the singles draw, was far from his top game and was broken at crucial points by Ito who had received wildcard for the main draw.
Ito, who at world No 145 was placed below the 122-ranked Indian, broke Prajnesh at 5-5 in the third set to take a 6-5 lead before holding his serve to wrap up the match in straight sets.
He will now face world numbwe two and defending champion Novak Djokovic.
The Japanese was on the charge from the opening set and broke Prajnesh in the third game to take a 3-1 lead by holding his serve. That break came back to haunt Prajnesh as he dropped the first set 4-6.
Prajnesh was even more off the target in the second set as he was broken twice by Ito who won the second set 6-2 comfortably.
It was only in the third set that Prajnesh could unleash from top tennis as he broke Ito to take a 2-1 lead but the Japanese broke back immediately to nullify Prajnesh’s advantage.
It was then at 5-5 that Prajnesh erred and had to pay the price with a loss in two hours and one minute.
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