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Tennis Round-up: Prajnesh shocks Paire at Indian Wells

Last updated on: March 08, 2019 14:43 IST

This win could see Prajnesh jump to 80th, a new career-high

IMAGE: This win could see Prajnesh jump to 80th, a new career-high. Photograph: Mike Owen/Getty Images

Indian qualifier Prajnesh Gunneswaran knocked out World No 69 Benoit Paire to record one of the biggest wins and progress to the second round of the Indian Wells ATP Masters event at Indian Wells on Thursday.

Playing his maiden singles main draw at this level, the Indian left-hander shocked the fancied French player 7-6(5), 6-4 in one hour and 29 minutes.

 

The World No 97 Indian next faces World No 18 Nikoloz Basilashvili from Georgia.T

This win could see Prajnesh jump to 80th, a new career-high.

"It's definitely one of the biggest wins of my career. It has come at a good time, I am close to making the cut for the Wimbledon(main draw) and I am going to go up in the rankings," Prajnesh told PTI.

"These kind of results, winning matches against quality opponents definitely add to my self-belief."

Prajnesh said more than the tennis, it was about handling the windy conditions which played a role in the outcome of the match.

"It was more about who is able to deal with the conditions than playing perfect tennis. I am glad I got through. I did what was necessary to win but definitely did not play my best. I look forward to my next match on Saturday," he said.

In the doubles draw, Rohan Bopanna is the only Indian competing. He has paired up with Canada's Shapovalov, instead of regular partner and compatriot Divij Sharan.

The Delhi left-hander said he and Bopanna could not have made the main draw together as a team with their combined ranking. Therefore Bopanna had to team up with world number 25 from Canada.

Bopanna is ranked 38th and Sharan 40th.

In more good news for India, Karman Kaur Thandi shocked fourth seed Maria Trevisan to move into the quarter-final of the Mexico Open on Thursday.

Thandi defeated the 162-ranked Italian 2-6, 6-3, 4-1 after the latter retired from the match due to injury.

She next faces British seventh seed Katie Swan for a place in the semis.

Venus beats illness, Petkovic to advance at Indian Wells

Venus Williams in action during her first-round victory. She next faces Petra Kvitova

IMAGE: Venus Williams in action during her first-round victory. She next faces Petra Kvitova. Photograph: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Venus Williams played through illness to win a seesaw opening round match against German Andrea Petkovic 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 at the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday.

Williams, who received medical attention from a trainer late in the first set, saved her best tennis for the biggest moments, breaking Petkovic for a sixth time in the final game to make up for a dismal second set.

Asked in an on-court interview to describe the encounter, the 38-year-old former world number one was almost at a loss for words.

"I don't know honestly. I'm still trying to figure it out," she said to laughs from the crowd on a sunny and windy day in the California desert.

"Every day is not your best day but that doesn't mean the heart and desire aren't there."

Thursday's match was just Williams's seventh of the year and first since January's Australian Open, where she fell to Simona Halep in the round of 32.

The win sets up a mouthwatering second-round clash with third seed Petra Kvitova, who holds a 4-2 edge in their previous meetings.

Canadian Eugenie Bouchard also required medical attention during the second set of her closely-fought evening match against Kirsten Flipkens, where she fell 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 to the German.

It was unclear what the problem was with Bouchard, who held a towel to her face while trainers attended to her during a medical timeout. But she appeared fine after the break.

The marathon battle included fantastic points from both players but Flipkens was ultimately the sharper of the pair, smacking a forehand winner cross court on matchpoint to advance to the second round of the tournament for a fifth time.

In other first-round winners on Thursday included Estonian Kaia Kanepi, Japan's Misaki Doi, American Madison Brengle and Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Querrey shakes off sluggish start to advance at Indian Wells

USA's Sam Querrey plays a return during his first round match against Italy's Matteo Berrettini in the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Thursday

IMAGE: USA's Sam Querrey plays a return during his first round match against Italy's Matteo Berrettini in the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Thursday. Photograph: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

American Sam Querrey bounced back from a sluggish start to claim a 7-6(5), 2-6, 6-4 win over Matteo Berrettini during a windy first-round match at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on Thursday.

The hard-hitting Californian was in a hole at 3-0, 40-0 down in the first set but rallied to break back and ultimately force a tiebreak he won to the delight of the partisan crowd.

Berrettini came out energized to win the second set but Querrey's blistering serve, highlighted by an unreturnable second serve on match point, eventually proved too much for the Italian.

"It was windy all day, which made things tough. It was one of those matches I'm happy to just kind of get through it," Querrey said in an interview after the match.

Next up for Querrey on Saturday is a re-match with 13th seed Milos Raonic, who won their Indian Wells quarter-final contest a year ago.

Querrey, who plays a similar style to the big-serving Canadian, said the key would be taking advantage of rare break point opportunities.

"When you play a guy like him you hopefully get a couple of break points during a match and you have to come out on top of those," he said.

"Last year he did a better job of winning those big points."

Another Californian, qualifier Marcos Giron, also won his first-round match with victories in two tiebreakers seeing off Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 7-6(3), 7-6(1).

Giron, who needed a wild card just to get into the qualifiers, will next face Australian Alex de Minaur, the 23rd seed.

Other first-round winners on Thursday included Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka, German Philipp Kohlschreiber, Slovak Martin Klizan and 18-year-old Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime.

Earlier in the day, Grigor Dimitrov withdrew from the tournament with a shoulder injury.

The Bulgarian has not played since the Australian Open and will look to return to the court at next month's Miami Open.

Kermode to step down as ATP president at end of year

Chris Kermode will leave his position as ATP executive chairman and president at the end of 2019, ending a tenure which brought record prize money but also growing complaints from lower-ranked players about their pay and travel schedules.

Kermode's contract was scheduled to expire at the end of the season and some players, including 17-times Grand Slam champion Rafa Nadal, believed the 54-year-old Briton should have continued in the job.

Some members of the ATP Player Council, however, including its President and world number one Novak Djokovic, had said they wanted to see a change.

The Council met privately for over six hours on Tuesday at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells to discuss Kermode's future and players' representatives on the ATP Board failed to endorse Kermode at a meeting on Thursday.

"It's been a privilege to serve as ATP executive chairman and president since 2014 and I'm very proud of what we have achieved during this time," Kermode said in the statement.

"I would like to thank everyone at the ATP, and all the players and tournaments for the support over the years. I remain fully dedicated to the role for the remainder of my term and wish the organisation every success in the future."

Djokovic said on Thursday that while Kermode had been successful in growing the game the Council had decided it was time for a change.

"It was decided in our governing structure, such as it is, that it is time for us to look into new leadership on the tour. That's all there is," the Serb told reporters, adding that he would not reveal how he voted due to a confidentiality clause.

While prize money is at an all-time high and attendance and viewership of the ATP Tour has soared, players like 24-year-old American Jared Hiltzik, the world number 355, have complained they cannot get into tournaments under new ATP and ITF rules.

"It's tough. Playing some of the best tennis of my life right now and at 350 I can't get into any challengers," he wrote on Twitter, referring to the ATP Challenger Tour, which is a step below the ATP World Tour.

"At this point in my career is it worth it to play futures? Or am I just taking away opportunities from other players who are just starting out?" he said, referring to the entry-level International Tennis Federation's Futures tournaments.

Possible replacements for Kermode include 42-year-old American Justin Gimelstob, an ATP board member and former player who won the Australian and French Open mixed doubles titles in 1998, and Anne Worcester, a former WTA CEO.

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