Qualifier Yuki Bhambri pitted against Ramkumar in first round

Yuki displayed solid backcourt play and looked in good touch, firing winner after winner to take the match. He had a string of aces too that underline his return to prime fitness.

Yuki Bhambri in action against Nicolas Kicker at the 2017 Aircel Chennai Open in Chennai.   -  S. R. Raghunathan

Yuki Bhambri was the lone survivor at the end of qualifiers as he defeated Nikolas Kicker 6-3, 6-1 in just under an hour to enter the main draw of the Chennai Open on Sunday.

With the win, the 24-year-old set up a first-round clash with Ramkumar Ramanathan, ensuring an Indian presence in the second round of the ATP tournament. The duo will be in action on Tuesday.

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Yuki displayed solid backcourt play and looked in good touch, firing winner after winner to take the match. He had a string of aces too that underline his return to prime fitness.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran, the other Indian in the final qualifier, put up a tough fight before going down to Slovakia’s Jozef Kovalik. He pushed the Slovakian around with deep ground strokes to take the set to the tie-breaker and keep the fully packed audience in good spirits. But World No. 117 rose up to the challenge when it mattered and pocketed the first set. The crowd began to thin out even as Kovalik elevated his game to take the second set 6-2 and with it, the match.

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“I had my chances in the first set. I couldn’t take him and the momentum shifted in his favour,” Prajnesh said.

Korea’s Hyeon Chung and Croatian Nikola Mektic were the other two qualifiers to make it to the main draw.

Playing in the centre court, Korean Chung served up a bagel before Austria’s Jurgen Melzer could manage to put up any semblance of resistance. Though the Austrian put up a fight in the second set, he couldn’t stop the Korean from winning the game 6-0, 7-6(4).

Monday's play:

Only one Indian pair, N Sriram Balaji and Vishnu Vardhan, will be seen in action on Monday. The duo will take on the Sweden’s Johan Brunstrom and Andreas Siljestrom in a late match with Borna Coric headlining the first day’s play in the singles main draw. The Croatian will take on Korean qualifier Hyeon Chung on the Centre Court after the match between Thiago Monteiro of Brazil and Daniel Medvedev of Russia.

Five singles matches and three doubles matches will take place on the opening day.

Results:

Qualifying Singles - Second Round

Qualifying - [1] H. Chung (KOR) d [PR] J. Melzer (AUT) 60 76(4)

Qualifying - [WC] Y. Bhambri (IND) d [2] N. Kicker (ARG) 63 61

Qualifying - [3] J. Kovalik (SVK) d P. Gunneswaran (IND) 76(2) 62

Qualifying - [Alt] N. Mektic (CRO) d [4] M. Trungelliti (ARG) 75 62

ORDER OF PLAY

CENTRE COURT start 5:05 pm

T. Monteiro (BRA) vs D. Medvedev (RUS)

[Q] H. Chung (KOR) vs [6] B. Coric (CRO)

J. Brunstrom (SWE) / A. Siljestrom (SWE) vs [WC] N. Balaji (IND) / V. Vardhan (IND)

COURT 1 start 5:00 pm

D. Dzumhur (BIH) vs D. Sela (ISR)

[Q] J. Kovalik (SVK) vs G. Elias (POR)

COURT 2 start 5:00 pm

S. Darcis (BEL) vs [Q] N. Mektic (CRO)

[PR] A. Begemann (GER) / Y. Lu (TPE) vs [PR] J. Melzer (AUT) / R. Olivo (ARG)

W. Koolhof (NED) / M. Middelkoop (NED) vs [2] G. Duran (ARG) / A. Molteni (ARG)