Karlovic halts Prajnesh's run, Zverev beaten

Karlovic halts Prajnesh's run, Zverev beaten

Jan-Lennard Struff en route to his win over Alexander Zverev in Indian Wells on Monday.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran's terrific run at the Indian Wells Masters came to an end following a straight-set defeat against big-serving Ivo Karlovic on Monday.

The Indian qualifier fought hard before losing 3-6, 6-7(4) to the tall Croat, who fired 16 aces in the one hour and 13-minute contest.

"It was very difficult to return his big serve. I had some chances, I did not take them and that's pretty much what decided the match," Prajnesh, ranked 97, said as he could not convert any of the two break chances.

It was Prajnesh's maiden appearance at an ATP Masters event and he bagged 61 ranking points with his stupendous effort, which will catapult him to a career-best rank of 82.

"Overall, it was a very good run. I am confident I will be able to do this again. Obviously, time will tell. Over a period of time I should be able to deliver such results consistently. I am not sure if it will always be at the Masters, or a 250 (tournament) or a Grand Slam. I hope it happens at the bigger events."

"At the end of the day, If I am consistently competing against these players and finding success then I am on the right track," said the Chennai player, who earned a prize purse of USD 48,775.

Meanwhile, India's Rohan Bopanna and his partner Denis Shapovalov bowed out of the doubles after a 6-4, 1-6, 8-10 defeat against Novak Djokovic and Fabio Fognini in the second round. 

In other matches, ailing world number three Alexander Zverev crashed out while Novak Djokovic's third-round match against German Philipp Kohlschreiber was suspended by rain with one game completed.

Jan-Lennard Struff, ranked 55th in the world, notched his first victory over Zverev in five tries, breaking him once in the first set and three times in the second for a 6-3, 6-1 victory.

"I think I just got unlucky, I got a virus somewhere and that's how it is." Zverev said.

Struff next faces 13th-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic, who rallied from 4-1 down in the third set to beat US qualifier Marcos Giron 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Frenchman Gael Monfils rolled past Albert Ramos Vinolas 6-0, 6-3 while Dominic Thiem beat France's Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-1 to set up a meeting with Karlovic.

In the women's event, world number one Naomi Osaka powered into the fourth round after a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Danielle Collins.

The US and Australian Open champion, who is also defending the title at Indian Wells, will next face Switzerland's Belinda Bencic, who beat Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4, 6-2.

The two were joined in the fourth round by seven-times Grand Slam champion Venus Williams, who defeated qualifier Christina McHale 6-2, 7-5.

The 38-year-old Williams, who showed her mettle in the second round where she upset world number three Petra Kvitova, will meet unseeded German Mona Barthel in the fourth round.

Earlier, Latvian 11th seed Anastasija Sevastova became the latest player to be struck down with a viral illness at the tournament.

Sevastova was down 5-0 in the first set of her third round match with Estonian 21st seed Anett Kontaveit when she retired.

Her departure came less than 24 hours after Serena Williams was unable to continue her match on Sunday, also citing a viral illness.

Among those women still feeling healthy, three-times grand slam champion Angelique Kerber battled back to beat Russian qualifier Natalia Vikhlyantseva 3-6, 6-1, 6-3.

Fifth seed Karolina Pliskova was not at her very best but still prevailed 6-3, 6-2 over Ysaline Bonaventure.



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