Before his first round at Wimbledon 2019 and first appearance into the main draw of the grasscourt major, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, India's only singles entrant in the 128-player draw, remained confident of producing a good show. The Chennai-born Gunneswaran will take on former Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic on Court 12 in what is expected to be a tough contest between two big serving players who are potent from the baseline and can do a decent job when moving forward.
Having played the qualifiers last year and exiting in the first round, Gunneswaran has made the draw this year by virtue of his ATP Ranking of No 94. It has certainly been an impressive year for him and he hopes to make an impact against Raonic as well. "I played last year as well - sure it was in qualifying but it was at the same event. I've been playing big tournaments this year and now it's just one more event. Of course, it's a special one and something you talk about playing and winning. At the end of the day, it is just another event. I look forward to playing a good match and giving myself a good chance of winning," he said in a chat on Sunday evening.
When queried if there were any nerves: of playing at Wimbledon for the first time, of playing a Grand Slam main draw event for a third time, of playing a former top-10 player and Gunneswaran said there was nothing in the pre-match. "No nerves or pressure pre-match but I don't know how it will be when I step on the court. So as of right now, there's no pressure. We will know better later."
For Gunneswaran another concern will be to make sure his serve stays on the mark following a shoulder injury at the Anning Challenger. The recovery period saw him miss out on tennis for a month. "Shoulder is fine now. It did take me some time to get through it but obviously, I'm glad it's gone and passed. I didn't really have too much time to work on getting it fixed. There's been no pain for a week."
"The serve is fine. Yes, I think I've served better at times. I'm serving quite well and I can only tell after the match if I served well or not. It depends on the day and the conditions, the wind for example. I served well last week as well - maybe the percentage has been higher in the past but there is only so much I can do without serving for a month and a half. So far I'm not too worried and that is pretty good," he said on the after-effects on return from shoulder concern.
The effects of the wear-and-tear told briefly during his second round in Antalya, Turkey. Against Lorenzo Sonego, Gunneswaran dropped the second set 6-0 - an odd scoreline for the big serving player to endure. In his career, Gunneswaran has been made to eat the 'bagel' 11 times - including against Sonego. The Indian, however, suggested it had little to do with his serve. "It's not like he broke me three times in a row. There are a lot of other things you can do wrong to lose serve. Can't really blame a weak set on the serve. In the first game, there were three short balls and by that logic, we should talk about my forehand and not my serve. I don't think my serve let me down in Turkey, to be honest. Yes, I would have liked to have 10-15 percent more on the first serve but I don't think that was the determining factor for the loss."
"It was 50-55 percent in the second set and higher in the third but I went for a percentage game then which is not ideal. I would like to go for my serves and still have 60 percent. But you know some days it's there and some days it's not. Maybe over a period of time, my serving percentage will be higher but at the moment it is what it is," he went on to say.
Day 1 at Wimbledon 2019: Prajnesh Gunneswaran vs Milos Raonic on Court 12. It is the third match on the court and may start around 8.30 PM IST.