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So near, yet so far: Prajnesh Gunneswaran misses out on maiden Grand Slam appearance as he already left Paris

Sahil Bhalla | Updated on: 28 May 2018, 15:22 IST
(Kiran Manjunath/AFP)

It was a case of so near, yet so far for India’s number three tennis player Prajnesh Gunneswaran (183-ranked player in the world). While Yuki Bhambri, India’s top-ranked player, made the main draw courtesy being in the top-100 of the ATP rankings, fellow compatriot Ramkumar Ramanathan lost to Britain’s Jay Clarke in the first round.

Gunneswaran though made it to the third and final round of qualifying before losing to Sweden’s Elias Ymer in straight sets. Due to a plethora of withdrawals, most importantly Australian Nick Kyrgios, an eight ‘Lucky Loser’ spot opened up at Roland Garros (French Open).

Gunneswaran was slated to take that spot and play against Australia’s Bernard Tomic but had already left Paris for Vicenza, Italy. He left because he had a main draw entry for the Internazionali Di Tennis Challenger tournament.

Who is the real ‘lucky’ loser

Turns out Gunneswaran was an ‘unlucky’ loser. The ATP rules state that one cannot play two tournaments at the same time, especially when they are in two different countries.

The ‘lucky’ loser is scheduled to play Tomic at 11 AM on Monday, 28 May.

With Gunneswaran out, next in line was Argentina’s Marco Trungelliti. Trungelliti was in Barcelona when he got the news. A nine-hour drive to Paris wasn’t going to stop him. Trungelliti was giving updates via Twitter about his journey back to Paris with his mother, grandmother and younger brother.

According to reports though, Gunneswaran might still get a backdoor entry into this years Roland Garros. Rule 7.06 of the ATP handbook states that a tournament supervisor has the right to release a player from the draw and allow him/her to play in another tournament. If the tournament supervisor at the Internazionali Di Tennis Challenger tournament allows Gunneswaran to realise his Grand Slam dreams, then maybe Trungelliti might be the ‘unlucky’ loser.

Gunneswaran will be playing the Challenger match against Salvator Caruso. If he had played the first round match at Roland Garros, he would have earned 40k, and if he somehow won that match, he would have made 79k and a lot of ranking points.

Maybe Gunneswaran would have benefited from flying into Paris. Over ten players have signed up for the eight lucky loser spot. There are just a few hours to go before we find out who gets to play Tomic in the first round.

As things stand, it is Marco Trungelliti lining up to play against Tomic in the first round. Is there going to be an upset on the cards in this already dramatic matchup?

Eight lucky losers

This year’s Roland Garros has already seen eight lucky loser spots open up. That’s the most since the start of the Open era in 1968.

One of the lucky losers in this year’s French Open is Egypt’s Mohamed Safwat. He’s the first Egyptian to compete in a Grand Slam singles match since Tamer El Sawy competed at the US Open in 1996.

First published: 28 May 2018, 15:22 IST
 
Sahil Bhalla @IMSahilBhalla

Sahil is a correspondent at Catch. A gadget freak, he loves offering free tech support to family and friends. He studied at Sarah Lawrence College, New York and worked previously for Scroll. He selectively boycotts fast food chains, worries about Arsenal, and travels whenever and wherever he can. Sahil is an unapologetic foodie and a film aficionado.

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