India’s top-ranked tennis player Prajnesh Gunneswaran has entered the main draw of Australian Open men’s singles event as a lucky loser and could face world No. 2 Novak Djokovic in the second round. Also Read - Tennis: Novak Djokovic Breaks Roger Federer's World Record For Most Weeks at No.1 in ATP Rankings
Gunneswaran had lost his final qualifying round against Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis 6-7 (2), 2-6 to miss out on a direct entry. However, with the withdrawal of an injured participant, the world No. 122 made the main draw. Also Read - Novak Djokovic Equals Roger Federer's Record For Most Weeks as World No.1 at ATP Rankings
“I am very happy I got the Lucky Loser spot and I am only thinking about my first round now. I will try to make the most of it. Ito is a very good player. He was in top-100 and is experienced. I will need to play well to beat him,” Prajnesh told PTI. Also Read - Australian Open 2021: Novak Djokovic Beats Daniil Medvedev For Record-Extending Ninth Title at Melbourne Park, Wins 18th Grand Slams Title Overall
Gunneswaran had defeated local wildcard Harry Bourchier and Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann before losing to Gulbis.
This is Gunneswaran’s fifth straight appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam event having earlier played in the Wimbledon, French Open and the US Open due to his better ranking.
He has been pitted against Japanese Tatsuma Ito who is ranked 22 places below the Indian meaning the 30-year-old has a good chance of winning his first ever grand slam match.
Should he beat Ito, he will set-up a dream match against 16-time grand slam winner Djokovic in the second round.
The left-hander Gunneswaran dropped out of the top-100 singles rankings by the end of 2019 following several defeats.
Earlier, Sumit Nagal and Ramkumar Ramanathan failed to make it to the main draw in Melbourne having suffered defeats in the qualifiers.