Bhambri knocks out defending champion Monfils at Citi Open

Yuki Bhambri defeated defending champion and World No. 22 Gael Monfils of France 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 to enter the third round at the Citi Open in Washington.

Yuki Bhambri returns to Gael Monfils at the Citi Open on Wednesday.   -  AFP

Yuki Bhambri defeated defending champion and World No. 22 Gael Monfils of France 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 to enter the third round at the Citi Open in Washington.

It was the biggest upset of the tournament so far. Bhambri, ranked 200th in the world, came into the main draw as a qualifier and has a career ATP record of 17-16.

“This is what every tennis player dreams of. This is where every tennis player wants to be,” Bhambri said. “It’s a huge confidence booster for me to know that I belong here. I can compete with the best.”

"I played very bad. It wasn't a good match," Monfils said. "I'm disappointed. It's tough to talk about it because it was really bad. I love this tournament. To come here and play a poor match like that, it's very tough."

Bhambri connected on 72 percent of first serves in the opening set, winning 16 of 18 points on his first serve, and lifted his level in the third set, taking of 20-of-23 first serve points.

"Definitely one of the biggest wins of my career," Bhambri said. "I hung in there and fought my way through. It gives me a lot of confidence going into my next match."

Next up for Bhambri is Argentina's Guido Pella, who ousted Bhambri's Davis Cup teammate Ramkumar Ramanathan in round one.

"I'm absolutely going to ask him for some advice," Bhambri said.

Pella defeated Mischa Zverev of Germany 6-7(5), 7—6(2), 6-3 in the second round.

Bopanna advances

It was good news for India in the men’s doubles as well with Rohan Bopanna and his partner Donald Young of USA overcoming their opening hurdle.

Wildcard entrants Bopanna and Young shrugged off the challenge of Canadian Daniel Nestor and Aisam—ul—Haq Qureshi of Pakistan in straight sets.

Bopanna and Young hardly broke a sweat to get the better of Nestor and Qureshi 6—2 6—3 to seal their place in the quarterfinals of the USD 1,750,080 event.

However, a Herculean task awaits Bopanna and Young as they take on fourth—seeded American brothers, Bob and Mike Bryan in the quarterfinals.

Alexander Zverev wins

Meanwhile, Alexander Zverev took advantage of late errors by Jordan Thompson during a third-set tiebreaker to advance to the third round of with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) victory.

Leading 5-4 in the tiebreaker, Thompson put a routine backhand into the net and then double-faulted. The eighth-ranked Zverev put away the match with a cross-court forehand that the 75th-ranked Australian couldn’t handle.

Zverev, a 20-year-old German, is a winner of three titles this year, two of them on clay.

“I’m just happy to get through that one. Seven to six in the third is always something very nice,” Zverev said. “You feel good about yourself. Hopefully I can do it better the next match.”

Tenth-ranked Milos Raonic of Canada, who beat Zverev in the fourth round of Wimbledon this year, also advanced, defeating Nicolas Mahut 7-6 (2), 7-6 (8). Raonic, the 2014 Citi Open champion, next faces veteran Marcos Baghdatis. They haven’t played each other in five years.

The Citi Open is a hard-court tuneup for the U.S. Open, which starts Aug. 28.

On the women’s side, Oceane Dodin beat Sara Errani 6-3, 5-7, 6-1.