Ramkumar Ramanathan advanced to the second round of Wimbledon qualifiers with ease, but Prajnesh Gunneswaran's woes continued amid injury concerns. The loss extended his losing streak to eight matches going back to April. Later, Ankita Raina also exited the qualifying campaign with a straight-set loss.
Ramanathan had no trouble dispatching Slovakia's Josef Kovalik 6-3, 6-0 in a contest where he dominated throughout and made good use of his groundstrokes. But it was his net approaches, winning over 70% of the points, that kept the 13th seed under pressure. He next faces Tomas Martin Etcheverry of Argentina.
Gunneswaran lost in straight sets to Britain's wildcard entrant Arthur Fery 1-6, 6-7 in an hour and nine minutes. The Indian was troubled with his serve in the opening set to be broken twice. Under pressure, the World No 147 Gunneswaran was unable to find neither his first or second serve and dropped the first set in just 20 minutes.
In the second set Prajnesh was pegged back in the very first game but broke right back to instil some much-needed confidence. The set remained on serve for the remainder forcing a tiebreak.
In the tiebreak, both players held their serves each time until the 12th point when Gunneswaran buckled under deep shots to send his backhand wide.
"I was carrying an injury the last two weeks so pulled out of a couple of tournaments to get ready for Wimbledon. I was just in a position to somehow play but not at my best. Unfortunate timing with the wrist issues that started two-three weeks ago. Given what I had coming in, not too bad. Not the result I wanted but going in I knew it was going to be pretty tough today," he told Firstpost.
"In the second set, couple of points here and there and the match could have been different. I was looking to force a third set and was getting better as the set progressed."
Gunneswaran's last win came at the Orlando ATP Challenger in April when he beat Matthew Ebden. Since then, he suffered disappointing defeats at the clay court events. Coming into grass in June, he retired early in Nottingham with a wrist injury.
At Roehampton, he didn't face any wrist issues but opted against going all out to not aggravate the injury.
"Didn't really have any issues today. But I was a bit rusty and hadn't hit too much. I was also being careful because I was being tentative on that flank. I didn't want to go all out because everything was okay now. If it goes wrong, I will lose another 3-4 weeks. I tried to play within myself but just wasn't enough today," the 31-year-old said.
Gunneswaran is eager to end his losing run with focus on hard court events. He will now move to Porto (Portugal) then take some time to train before the US hard court tournaments begin.
In the women's singles qualifying, Raina lost 3-6, 6-7 to World No 778 Varvara Lepchenko. The 35-year-old American broke Raina twice in the first set and produced a flawless tiebreak in the second to progress to the second round.