Chennai Open witnessed 2016 finalist Borna Coric bowing out in the very first round on Monday, upset by spectacled Korean Hyeon Chung in an energy sapping two-hour battle that featured multiple long rallies.
Tuesday’s schedule is loaded with even more delectable showdowns back-to-back with Brit and 2015 finalist Aljaz Bedene taking on five-time ATP tour title winner Spaniard Guillermo Garcia Lopez in the Centre Court to kick-start the proceedings of the day.
After a testing 2016 where his quest for a Davis Cup spot in Britain’s squad hit a wall, luck has been with Aljaz Bedene this past one week. After narrowly missing the cut for main draw in the Chennai Open as well as the Australian Open, player pullouts in the last minute (Juan Del Potro in Australia, Tommy Robredo in Chennai) gave him direct entry into the main draw.
The duo has met twice earlier, with the previous encounter also coming in Chennai Open in 2015. Bedene came out unscathed in that match, beating the Spaniard in the quarterfinal en route to making the final. The other match between the two, in Vienna in 2012, settled in Bedene’s favour with Garcia-Lopez retiring hurt.
After what promises to be high calibre tennis match between two quality international players, two India hopefuls, Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan, will battle it out for a place in second round. Will the experienced Bhambri, a qualifier in this event, upstage the Chennaiite and crowd favourite to reclaim his place of supremacy in India?
Yuki Bhambri, who saw his rankings touch a high of 89 in 2015, had a trying 2016 with an elbow injury forcing him out of action for a major portion of the year. The former junior World No. 1 shook off his rustiness with a comprehensive win over World No. 110 in the final qualifier, and looks in fine touch to challenge the current India No. 2.
Ramkumar, 22, in his own words, also had an ordinary year, staying stagnant at World No. 227 with only ITF Futures titles to show for after a quarterfinal run in the Chennai Open last year. The two have faced each other in a Challenger tournament in 2015, with Ramkumar emerging the victor and the match on Tuesday promises to be a slug fest.
Another exciting match is on cards as the day progresses with India’s No. 1 Saketh Myneni pitte against 2008 champion Mikhail Youzhny.
Saketh, who made it to the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time in US Open last year, faces a former top-10 player who has had his share of injury woes. The duo has never played each other before and it will be interesting to see how the Indian matches up to the might of the veteran Russian who already has 10 ATP Tour titles under his name.
In other courts, fifth seed Benoit Paire will tackle Russian Konstantin Kravchuk while teen sensation Casper Ruud will look to a prove a point against the higher-ranked Argentinian Renzo Olivio.
Will it be Yuki or Ramkumar? Will Saketh upset Youzhny to give Indian challenge the much needed fillip? Will Bedene ride his luck to vanquish Garcia-Lopez? Tuesday tennis in Chennai looks exciting indeed!
Order of play ( from 5.05 pm):
Centre Court: Aljaz Bedene (GBR) vs Guillermo Garcia Lopez (ESP), Ramakumar Ramanathan (IND) vs Yuki Bhambri (IND), Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) vs Saketh Myneni (IND).
Court 1: Renzo Olivo (ARG) vs Casper Ruud (NOR), Benoit Paire (FRA) vs Konstantin Kravchuk (RUS). Doubles: Jonathan Elrich (ISR)/Scott Lipsky (USA) vs James Cerrentani (USA)/Philipp OSwald (AUT).
Court 2 from 6 p.m.: Radu Albot (MDA) vs Yen-Hsun LU (TPE), Rogerio Dutra Silva (BRA) vs Dusan Lajovic (SRB).