Prajnesh Gunneswaran achieved his first ever Masters 1000 match win at the age of 29 with a win over volatile Frenchman Benoit Paire in the first round of Indian Wells. The win came as a big surprise as the Indian had never had any success at ATP level, with a solitary career match win last year against Denis Shapovalov in Stuttgart, an ATP 250 played on grass.
Gunneswaran came into this tournament ranked 97, having reached a career high ranking of 94 in February, almost entirely on the strength of his Challenger level results, where he’s won 2 titles in the past 12 months among many other deep runs. With this win over Paire, he’s already guaranteed a new career high ranking, with live rankings after round 1 having him at 83. Another win would most likely propel him into the top 80. No matter what happens, it’s almost guaranteed that he’ll get direct entry into a Slam for the first time in his career at Roland Garros. He was in the main draw at the Australian Open earlier this year, but only after coming through the qualifying.
In the second round, Gunneswaran will face the rising Nikoloz Basilashvili, who’s ranked 18 in the world. The Georgian starts as the clear favorite, but he’s prone to being inconsistent and the slow high bouncing surface of Indian Wells doesn’t necessarily suit his game, so Gunneswaran might actually have a chance to keep this run going.