Chennai Open: Yuki outpowers a hapless Ramkumar

With Ramkumar Ramanathan’s first serve deserting him and his returns nothing to write home about, Yuki Bhambri broke the 2016 quarterfinalist in the very first game. Despite the crowd egging him on, Ramkumar could muster only two games in a 52-minute match.

yuki bhambri

Yuki Bhambri took just 52 minutes to dispose 2016 quarterfinalist Ramkumar Ramanathan.   -  S. R. Raghunathan

Yuki Bhambri destroyed a hapless Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-1, 6-1 at the Centre Court on Tuesday to set up a pre-quarterfinal clash with Frenchman Benoit Paire.

52 minutes. That was all it took for Yuki to finish off the match and they were nightmarish for the local wild card.

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The assault began in the first game itself. With Ramkumar’s first serve deserting him and his returns nothing to write home about, Yuki broke the 2016 quarterfinalist in the very first game.

Yuki began charging at the net at every instance. Intimidated, Ramkumar would either hit the ball wide or send across a weak return for the 24-year-old qualifier to play an inside-out winner with a proper backswing. The script would repeat throughout the course of the match.

There were constant cries of 'Com'on Ramkumar' in the stadium as the crowd refused to give up on the home talent, but the 22-year-old couldn’t spread much cheer.

"Yuki played aggressive tennis. Yuki had the initiative right from the first game. I did not make enough first serves and on my second serves, he pressed a lot. It was one of my bad days. I will work hard and try to do whatever it takes to play better," the Chennai lad said.

"I disappointed the crowd. I need to work hard," an apologetic Ramkumar added.

Yuki, who was coming into the main draw after two good victories in the qualifiers, said he didn't take the foot off the pedal once the match started.

"I tried to get as many breaks as possible. If given a chance, he could have come back," Yuki, who missed more than six months of last season to an elbow injury, said.

Asked if his approach to the net was a pre-meditated strategy, Yuki said he said it was there for the taking. "I had a lot of opportunities to come to the net, so I took it. It wasn't pre-planned."

BEDENE EASES PAST LOPEZ

Earlier, Aljaz Bedene shrugged off initial rustiness to beat ninth seeded Spaniard Guillermo Lopez 6-3, 6-3 in a first round match.

Contrary to the final script, it was Lopez who began the match with all his shots looking well in place. His angled cross-court winners, both with his backhand and his forehand, found the intended corners.

For 20 minutes, Lopez looked the better player, even affording a smile for the rare miss. But that was when things started turning around.

Bedene, staring at a triple break point, won the game to make it 3-3. He broke Lopez in his first opportunity with an inside-out forehand that Lopez could only watch it whiz past him. The Brit began firing in those thundering aces, improved first serve percentage from 36 to 62 and captured the set 6-3.

The second set featured good rallies with both players attacking the corners. Bedene limited his errors, played some great drop shots to go with his big serves and began dominating the game. Lopez double faulted after saving two break points to concede a crucial 3-1.

Bedene, who was promoted to the main draw after Tommy Robredo pulled out, wrapped it up soon after to progress to the second round.

YOUZHNY PUTS OFF A SPIRITED MYNENI

Saketh Myneni put up a valiant fight before going down to Russian seventh seed Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 6-3.

The first set saw the Indian giving Youzhny a run for his money with his solid baseline game. Saketh covered the court well, came to the net when the situation demanded and even had a breakpoint opportunity at 2-2 but erred on the return. At 4-5 and serving to save the set, the 29-year-old succumbed to pressure and conceded the game.

The 29-year-old wildcard caved in meekly in the second set as the Russian walked away with a 4-0. After a brief resistance on his service games, Saketh Myneni eventually lost the plot.

"I was coming back after a long layover, so I was a bit rusty which showed on the court. I also made a lot of unforced errors at crucial junctures in the game. That is something you can’t do against good players like Youzhny," Myneni said after the loss.

In the doubles, top seeds Jonathan Erlich and Scott Lipsky lost to James Cerretani and Philipp Oswald 4-6, 6-1, 8-10.

Results (Indians unless specified):

Centre Court: Aljaz Bedene (GBR) bt Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) 6-3, 6-3; Yuki Bhambri bt Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-1, 6-1; Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) bt Saketh Myneni 6-4, 6-3;

Court 1: Benoit Paire (FRA) bt Konstantin Kravchuk (RUS) 6-3, 6-4; Renzo Olivo (ARG) bt Casper Ruud (NOR) 7-6(3), 6-2; Doubles: Jonathan Erlich(ISR)/ Scott Lipsky (USA) bt James Cerretani (US)/ Philipp Oswald(AUT) 4-6, 6-1, 8-10.

Court 2: Yen-Hsun Lu bt Radu Albot 6-2, 6-1; Rogerio Dutra Silva(BRA) bt Dusan Lajovic(SRB) 7-6, 4-6, 7-6(3)