Prajnesh shocks Paire in round one

Prajnesh shocks Paire in round one

Terrific win.... Prajnesh Gunneswaran. File photo

Qualifier Prajnesh Gunneswaran knocked out world number 69 Benoit Paire for one of the biggest wins of his career and progressed to the second round of the Indian Wells ATP Masters event here.

Playing his maiden singles main draw at this level, the Indian left-hander shocked the fancied French player 7-6 (5), 6-4 in one hour and 29 minutes.

Before this, Prajnesh had taken out then world number 23 Denis Shapovalov for the biggest win of his career at the Stuttgart ATP 250 event last year.

The world number 97 Indian next faces world number 18 Nikoloz Basilashvili from Georgia.

Since Prajnesh is not defending too many points ahead and has already added 41 to his kitty, he is likely to jump to 80th, a new career-high. “It’s definitely one of the biggest wins of my career. It has come at a good time, I am close to making the cut for the Wimbledon (main draw) and I am going to go up in the rankings,” Prajnesh said.

“These kinds of results, winning matches against quality opponents definitely add to my self-belief.”

Prajnesh said more than the tennis, it was about handling the windy conditions which played a role in the outcome of the match.

In other matches, American Sam Querrey bounced back from a sluggish start to claim a 7-6 (5), 2-6, 6-4 win over Matteo Berrettini.

Another Californian, qualifier Marcos Giron, also won his first-round match with victories in two tiebreakers seeing off Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 7-6 (3), 7-6 (1). Other first-round winners on Thursday included Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, German Philipp Kohlschreiber, Slovak Martin Klizan and 18-year-old Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime.

In the women’s section, former world number one Venus Williams emerged from a back-and-forth battle with a 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 victory over German Andrea Petkovic to reach the second round.

France’s Kristina Mladenovic booked her second meeting in three weeks with world number one Naomi Osaka, beating China’s Zheng Saisai 7-5, 6-2.