Kolkata, Jan 29 (IANS) A day after achieving a career-best ATP ranking of 102, rising tennis player Prajnesh Gunneswaran on Tuesday said he would look to make the most of his good run over the past year and help India do well against stronger Italy in the Davis Cup World Group Qualifiers here on Friday.
Prajnesh, who is the country's highest ranked singles player, will spearhead India's challenge against the higher-ranked Italians led by World No.18 Marco Cecchinato, who upset Novak Djokovic in the French Open quarterfinals last year.
The 29-year old Prajnesh, who started 2018 as World no.243 and ended it as No.104, won two ATP Challenger titles and also upset now World No.27 Denis Shapovalov on grass at the Stuttgart Open last year.
He also won the men's singles bronze at the Jakarta Asian Games.
"I've had enough tournaments over the last couple of years and I've had a very good run in the last six months so I'm looking forward to using the momentum and trying to do as well as possible here," Prajnesh told reporters after India's practice session at the Calcutta South Club.
Prajnesh struggled early on in his career with stress fractures in his knees but the southpaw from Chennai made a remarkable turnaround, achieving a career-high ranking recently.
"The fact is that I was injured and I had already been, I wasn't too bad before that as well. So I just think it was unfortunate that I could not get to this level earlier," Prajnesh said when asked about him being a late bloomer.
Prajnesh also made light of the altered Davis Cup format where they now have to play three-setters as opposed to five-setters.
"It doesn't really matter to me to be honest. it's a bit more physical if we play five sets best of three and anything can happen and it's in two days and not three days so I don't really see too much of a difference."
Coach Zeeshan Ali added that the practice grass courts at the South Club are slower than what they expected and the bounce is low.
India were previously practicing at the Calcutta Gymkhana and since Monday have started training at the venue.
"Grass is different in Gymkhana and over here its on the slower side. The whole idea is it's not so much about the fast or slow courts. It's more about how the boys settle in, in terms of movement, in terms of the mental approach, which is...it's completely different playing on grass than it is on hard court and clay," Ali said.
"The more you practice on grass, the more confidence you get so that was the whole idea of getting in earlier to acclimatise and to play on a surface which none of these players have played too much on," he added.