India's top-ranked tennis ace Prajnesh Gunneswaran sets sights on breaking into top 50 in world after best season
'2018 has been my best season. I'm looking to have a better 2019. I have given myself a good platform to push and I hope that happens,' Prajnesh Gunneswaran, ranked 107 in the ATP rankings, said.
India's number one singles player Prajnesh Gunneswaran, who is coming off a successful season during which he won two Challenger titles, said 2018 was his best year and the aim was to "ideally be in the top 50".
"2018 has been my best season. I'm looking to have a better 2019. I have given myself a good platform to push and I hope that happens," the 29-year old left-hander, ranked 107 in the ATP rankings (as of 24 December), said.
The Chennai player, who has overcome injuries to fight his way back into the circuit, said the priority was to stay in the top 100.
"I mean being inside the top 100, possibly if I do well there is a chance to be in the top 50 in the world. But I am more interested in making sure I improve enough to be able to compete in the Tour level, in the Tour events.
"... And as I long I am inside the top 100, then I have done a decent job of keeping my ranking and my level. But the goal would ideally be to get around 50," Prajnesh said on the sidelines of a TNTA event to honour past and present players from Tamil Nadu on Sunday night.
Asked whether he intended to play more Tour events in 2019, he said initially he would participate in some Challengers and some Tour events and later take a call depending on how well he does in them.
On the areas he has improved, Prajnesh felt he was getting better in playing attacking tennis.
"I think I have started playing better attacking tennis. My return of serve has also gotten better. Overall, a better match player...mainly due to the volume of tournaments I played over the last two years," he added.
Prajnesh, who trains at the Waske Tennis Academy in Germany, said he was putting in more work than he normally used to in training.
"Because I need to start preparing to be able to play five sets. I think it could be a possibility pretty soon. Hopefully something that I have to regularly do. So yeah I have been training more than I normally do."
About the chances in the Davis Cup qualifiers against Italy to be played in Kolkata in February, Prajnesh said the Indian team will put up a good fight.
"Italy are definitely a very strong side and the task ahead is not an easy one. They have six players within the top 100 in the team. But then we have a slight advantage because we will not only be playing at home, but also on grass," he added.
Prajnesh also said being the No 1 or the No 2 player in the team does not matter much once he steps onto the court.
"To be honest, being the top singles player in the country will add a little more responsibility in Davis Cup... but then when you step on the court it doesn't matter whether you are the No 1 player or No 2.
"All that matters is that there is pressure and you are facing a top player. So you have to do everything to win," he added.
On losing out on playing in front of his home crowd here in the ATP event as the country's top player, the southpaw said he was happy that the tournament was still in India and expected the crowd to back him in Pune, where the tournament has moved since the beginning of 2018.
"I am happy that it is still in India. I hope I will have a big crowd supporting me in Pune. I have always loved playing in Pune. Obviously nothing would have been able to beat the tournament being in Chennai," he signed off.
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