5 Things To Know About Prajnesh Gunneswaran, India's No. 1
At the age of 29, Prajnesh Gunneswaran is making his breakthrough on the ATP Tour. In the space of 11 months, the Chennai native has claimed his first two ATP Challenger Tour titles, won on his ATP main draw debut (d. Shapovalov), become India’s No. 1 player and risen into the Top 100.
His progression has continued this week at the BNP Paribas Open, where he qualified for his first ATP Masters 1000 main draw. He proceeded to upset former World No. 18 Benoit Paire 7-6(5), 6-4 in the first round and followed with a hard-fought 6-4, 6-7(6), 7-6(4) win over No. 17 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili. On Monday, he faces Ivo Karlovic for a place in the Round of 16.
"For me, I believe if you’re there, if you’re always trying, then you always have a chance," he says. "No matter how good the guy is on the other side, there comes a moment when everyone has a little bit of nerves, tension, and you can find a way back in. I think it’s important to show your opponent that you’re not going to go away."
Listen To ATP Tennis Radio's Interview With Gunneswaran:
Here are five things to know about Gunneswaran:
1. His grandfather loved tennis…
And he passed that passion onto his grandchildren. As early as three or four years of age, Gunneswaran would tag along when his cousin went to the tennis courts and naturally picked up the sport. By the time he was nine, he was already one of the best in his state. “I didn’t really plan on being a professional, but I liked playing and I wanted to keep doing it,” says Gunneswaran.
2. But he nearly called it quits.
After playing collegiate tennis for one year at the University of Tennessee, Gunneswaran decided to turn pro only to struggle with recurrent stress fractures in his knees for the next four years.His ability to train limited, Gunneswaran played only a handful of tournaments and was unranked as recently as June 2015. Towards the end, he was ready to give up, but his family still believed in him. “My parents told me to give it one last shot and that’s how I’m here now.”
3. Changing his fitness program gave him a second chance.
Reconnecting with strength and conditioning coach Christian Bosse proved to be the turning point. “He gave me a really good bicycle program, and over a period of time that gave me the base I needed to be able to start training with the right intensity.” Gunneswaran has also benefitted from being at the Alexander Waske Tennis University in Germany, where he is coached by Bastian Suwanprateeep. “I’ve known them for a long time and we’re like family. I like the setup and I’m used to it and clearly it’s working for me.”
4. Rafter is part of his email address.
Growing up, he looked up to Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and Patrick Rafter. He especially admired Rafter's style of play, and even created an email ID that included the Aussie's name. Though Gunneswaran no longer uses it as his regular email address, one could still reach him at it!
5. He likes TV shows ('Suits' is a fave) and technology.
On the court, Gunneswaran considers himself a fighter who doesn’t like to give up easily. Off the court, he says he’s the opposite – very relaxed. He enjoys watching movies and TV shows (‘Suits’ is one of his favourites at the moment), as well as reading up on the latest technology.