Bhambri tames Ramkumar in thrilling final to clinch Pune Challenger title

Yuki Bhambri defeated Ramkumar Ramanathan 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the final at the Mhalunge-Balewadi sports complex on Saturday.

Singles winner Yuki Bhambri (fourth from left) and runner-up Ramkumar Ramanathan (second from right) alongside guests at the conclusion of the final.   -  Special Arrangement

Yuki Bhambri quelled an aggressive but erratic Ramkumar Ramanathan in a thrilling three-set final 4-6, 6-3,6-4 to win the KPIT-MSLTA 50000 ATP Challenger singles title at the Mhalunge-Balewadi sports complex on Saturday.

Older to his rival by two years, the Delhi-based Bhambri turned the match on its head, after dropping the opening set in 39 minutes. A backhand winner from him marked the end of a two-hour-two-minute pulsating contest. Bhambri won USD 7200 and 80 ATP points to rise in the world rankings and an excellent run in the Bengaluru Open next week could see him break into the top 100.

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It was much against the run of play, though, that Bhambri took control of the match, especially after Ramkumar faltered on his second service game of the second set, committing five double faults. Ramkumar dropped this game and set and did not look the same player who had broken back Bhambri in the opening set and put up a commanding display.

Service problem

But it was also a gripping final in which Ramkumar dropped in excess of 30 points on his serve. The Chennai-based Ramkumar fired 11 aces, but accounted for 10 double faults, which largely contributed to his downfall.

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Bhambri remained unruffled by the early setback, seized opportunities and was smarter of the two in shot selection. He was always the master from behind the service line and stepped deep into the front court to outwit Ramkumar on most occasions.

It was Bhambri's first challenger win in 2017; he took a medical break to treat a pulled calf muscle of his left leg. “I think it was a very close contest. One break in each set sort of changed it all [for him]. It was a small margin. He is playing very well. Ram plays a different game. He served many aces; sometimes it does not work. That’s his style. A title this year was missing. But Pune has been lucky for me,” said Bhambri.