India’s second-highest ranked men’s singles tennis player, Prajnesh Gunneswaran revealed some of his trade secrets about understanding an opponent’s game in a video chat with coach Suresh-Kumar Sonachalam.
The 30-year-old tennis ace, who rose to his career-highest ATP ranking of 75 in April last year, stated that while he relies on video footage and coach’s tips during match preparation, it is the study of the small details that makes all the difference.
“Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent is always advantageous,” Prajnesh Gunneswaran said during a webinar conducted by the All India Tennis Association (AITA)..
“A player could look flawless in his shots at times. But observing if they are hitting those shots with consistency or recklessness says a lot about them,” the Chennai athlete explained.
One of the biggest sources of knowledge about opponents for Prajnesh Gunneswaran has been other players.
A large part of his homework has been finding acquaintances who have previously faced his next opponent.
“Some players pick up more details than the other,” Gunneswaran pointed out.
One of his compatriots, who Prajnesh Gunneswaran believes does this job well, is 2017 Chennai Open winner Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan.
“He remembers what a guy likes to serve at 30-30 or on breakpoints,” the former Indian no.1 said.
“Those are huge details. So, if you know which side your opponent has a 70 per cent chance of serving in a situation, it is huge. Recalling these little things is special,” he added.
Sixth gear to break into top 50
The year 2019 was an encouraging one for Prajnesh Gunneswaran.
Apart from reaching his career’s highest singles ranking, the Indian tennis player also made his maiden appearance at the Australian Open apart from competing at the Wimbledon and US Open.
One of Prajnesh Gunneswaran’s biggest highlights of the year was reaching the final of the season's first ATP Challenger singles final - Anning Challenger in China.
While the southpaw has now dropped below Sumit Nagal in the ATP rankings to 132nd position, he knows exactly what he must do to break into the top 50.
“I have to primarily increase my mental endurance. It’s not obvious from the outside but it’s important how long one can intensely compete,” Gunneswaran said.
“There are matches where I have to play in the sixth gear, but I don’t have a sixth gear. I have to push through it anyway and play on overdrive for a longer period. Eventually, that becomes your new average,” he explained.
“I also have to improve my finishing. I create a lot of midcourt balls and I should be winning a lot more points,” the Indian tennis ace concluded.