India’s Prajnesh Gunneswaran defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili in the second round of the Indian Wells Open before bowing out in the third round to veteran Iva Karlovic. Image Credit: Courtesy: ATP Tour

Dubai: India’s fast-improving star Prajnesh Gunneswaran hopes to learn from past experiences and keep the growth chart going heading into the next stage of the tennis calendar.

Gunneswaran is expected to touch a career-high No. 82 when the new ATP rankings are announced at the end of the ongoing BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on March 17.

Making his maiden ATP Masters appearance, Gunneswaran’s dream run was brought to an end by veteran Ivo Karlovic in the third round as the 30-year-old Indian lost 6-3, 7-6 earlier this week.

Four weeks back, Gunneswaran scaled a career-high No. 97 following his win at two ATP Challengers among other solid results. At Indian Wells earlier this week, he came through the qualifying rounds and then defeated Frenchman Benoit Paire and 17th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili to make the third round of an ATP 1000 Tournament for the first time in his career.

I am not young, but I think I’m making up for lost time. I was down and out to injuries for way too long in the past, and now I am trying to make up.

- Prajnesh Gunneswaran » Indian tennis player

“I am happy with the way the week has gone for me. I feel I am at last proving to myself and to everybody around that I can stay with players in the big league,” Gunneswaran told Gulf News from Indian Wells.

“I hope to continue having performances like these in the other big tournaments.”

Gunneswaran had a lot to learn from his experience following his third-round defeat to Karlovic. “This has definitely been a good tournament for me even though I fell short of an ATP 1000 quarter-final. But I was happy with the feeling after getting five great matches against some of the top players,” he said.

“And even though I lost the last one there have been so many lessons to take. Obviously, I was hoping for a better result in the third round [against Karlovic] and perhaps I could have played a bit better. But I don’t want the lessons to be lost as I aim to continue improving.”

Troubled by injuries for a major part of his career, Gunneswaran has been registering steady performances of late while winning a couple of ATP Challengers and eight ITF titles. At the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games, Gunneswaran won the men’s singles bronze medal. And now fast approaching 30, he knows that his best years in sport may well be behind him.

“Of course I am not young, but I think I’m making up for lost time. I was down and out to injuries for way too long in the past, and now I am trying to make up,” he said. “I will work my way up and I hope this is only the beginning for me,” he added.

TOP 5 Indians

No. Name Age Ranking Best Ranking

1. Prajnesh Gunneswaran 30 97 94

2. Ramkumar Ramanathan 24 136 111

3. Yuki Bhambri 26 171 83

4. Saketh Myneni 31 246 113

5. Sasi Kumar Mukund 22 270 269