NEW DELHI, April 29: Prajnesh Gunneswaran today clinched his first ever singles title on the ATP Challenger circuit when he defeated Egypt�s Mohammed Safwat in the final of the Kunming Open in Anning, a victory which will push him inside top-200.
Prajnesh, who had won the decisive fifth rubber of the recent China tie, beat the Egyptian 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 in one hour and 52 minutes.
It was the second final at the Challenger level for southpaw Prajnesh, who had lost the Pune summit clash to Sadio Doumbia in October 2016.
The 28-year-old from Chennai, ranked 260, pocketed USD 21,600 and earned 125 points which are likely to help him jump more than 80 places when the new ranking chart will be issued tomorrow.
India will now have three players inside top-200 as Prajnesh is expected to be around 175. Yuki Bhambri leads the chart for the country at number 83 and is followed by Ramkumar Ramanathan (115).
�This victory could not have come at a better time. First time I have earned so many points from a single event. These 125 points will help me a lot. I think it will help me secure (qualifiers of) both Wimbedon and US Open,� Prajnesh, who will appear his final year exams at University of London, told PTI from Anning.
�This win has taught me what it takes to be in top-100. I always knew what I need to do to move to the next level but now I know how to do it. I think I am good enough to be in top-100,� Prajnesh, studying Business Administration, added.
Prajnesh, who had a bright career as a junior but lost many years after turning Pro due to stress fractures in his knees, said after winning the fifth rubber against Chinese prodigy Yibing Wu, he has got a better understanding of his game.
�I was confident taking him since I was much higher-ranked but what I took from that match at 2-all, playing for country, was better understanding of my game.�
Prajnesh will take a few weeks off to appear in exams and will again start playing closer to the French Open. � PTI