A rusty Prajnesh Gunneswaran was far from his best and was knocked out of the Tata Open Maharashtra, losing in straight sets to American Michael Mmoh on Monday.
The game which earned him impressive results in the 2018 season was nowhere to be seen as he lost 5-7 3-6 to his American opponent, ranked 103, in one hour and 14 minutes.
Steve Darcis, who is coming out of a long injury lay-off, knocked out sixth seed Roberto Carballes Baena 6-3 6-4 to create first upset of the tournament while Russia’s Evgeny Donskoy accounted for eight seed Spaniard Pablo Andujar 6-3 5-7 7-6(6).
It has been a decent venue for Prajnesh as he made two Challenger level finals here — one just weeks back –but free-flowing unforced errors never let him dictate the points.
He lost the very first game of the match and struggled to win two points together. He broke back in the sixth game during which he played the point of the match.
Mmoh dictated the points and dropped the ball away from Prajnesh, who though took about six-seven steps to hammer a passing winner.
Prajnesh said change in game style may have cost him the match but he would continue with hitting the ball flat since.
“I started slow and made too many mistakes. It could be because it was first match of the season. I usually play with lot of spin, which protects me but I hit flat. I executed what I wanted to but not as much as I wanted,” said the left-hander from Chennai.
“I know it’s high risk but that’s way forward for me. I was hitting ok but did not involve him long rallies. But I did not play a bad match,” he explained.
Asked how will he trust his new tactics when the start has not been good, Prajnesh was bullish in continuing. “I should not be changing (my game) again. And in the process If I lose a few matches, so be it.”
Meanwhile, seventh seed Jaume Munar from Spain sent packing the KPIT-MSLTA Challenger winner Radu Albot 6-2 7-6(4) in the other opening round match.
The other Indians in the singles draw – qualifier Saketh Myneni, Ramkumar Ramanathan and Arjun Kadhe will be seen in action on Tuesday.