Prajnesh Gunneswaran lost 3-6 6-7(1) to Otto Virtanen in just one hour and 25 minutes.© AFP
Prajnesh Gunneswaran yet again lost to a lower-ranked player in the Davis Cup to leave India trailing 0-1 in the World Group I tie against Finland, in Espoo on Friday. Up against Otto Virtanen, ranked as low as 419 in the ATP ranking chart, the 165th ranked Prajnesh lost 3-6 6-7(1) in just one hour 25 minutes. Ramkumar Ramanathan now needs to beat Finland’s number one player, Enil Ruusuvuori, who is ranked 74 in the world to keep India in the hunt. It was a good draw for India with Prajnesh playing first against a lower-ranked player but Virtanen stroked fluently and walked away with an easy win.
Prajnesh saved two breaks early but dropped serve in the sixth game to fall behind in the opening set.
The left-hander got a chance to break back when Virtanen double-faulted at deuce point in the next game but Prajnesh could not capitalise on the chance.
Virtanen served out the set without any fuss in the ninth game. With home support, Virtanen kept the Indian under the pump.
Prajnesh was again in danger of dropping serve early in the second set but he managed to hold the third game after a couple of deuce points.
Prajnesh kept fighting till 4-all but was down 0-40 after serving a double fault in the ninth game.
However, he saved five breakpoints and eventually held the game with a well-calculated drop shot.
The Indian served the 11th game set love and now needed to break his rival, who was playing effortlessly.
He got that little chance when Virtanen hit forehand on net at deuce point but the Finnish pulled off an ace at the break point.
Eventually it went to a tie-breaker, in which Prajnesh fell behind 0-3 and then 1-5.
An angled serve that Prajnesh could not return gave the home player a match point, which he converted with an easy winner.
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