Pune ATP Challenger: Yuki Bhambri sails into second round

In just over an hour’s time he shrugged off wild card and local boy Anvit Bendre 6-3, 6-3. It wasn’t the most domineering of displays, but Bhambri raised his level at just about the precise moments.

Yuki Bhambri made an unfettered start on day one of the $50,000 KPIT ATP Challenger tournament.   -  The Hindu

In his first match since breaking into the top-100 last week — the fickle tennis rankings had already pushed him to 105 by Monday morning — Yuki Bhambri made an unfettered start on day one of the $50,000 KPIT ATP Challenger tournament here.

In just over an hour’s time he shrugged off wild card and local boy Anvit Bendre 6-3, 6-3. It wasn’t the most domineering of displays, but Bhambri raised his level at just about the precise moments.

If a break each in the first and ninth games gave him the first set, three straight games right at the start of the second, firmly shut the door in Bendre’s face. The latter struggled with his first serves, landing just 42 per cent of them.

Bendre never looked to stay in the rally, choosing instead to change direction and force the winners. Unfortunately for him, more often than not, the shots were over-cooked.

In another match, Ramkumar Ramanthan had to come back from 1-5 down in the first set to register a win over Gerard Granollers. Two of the lanky 20-year-old’s biggest weapons, the serve and the forehand, both gave him problems on the day. The first serve percentage was a paltry 53 and his forehand — when perfectly calibrated, a venomous one — was never consistent.

Yet, he managed to wriggle out. Granollers served for the first set twice, at 5-2 and 5-4. The nerves which had earlier seemed to affect Ramkumar, now afflicted Granollers. The Indian stretched the set to a tie-break.

The Spaniard earned himself another shot at the set at 6-5. But at that crucial juncture, Ramkumar reeled off three straight points, ironically with two good first serves and a forehand winner to close out the set. In the second set, he broke Granollers to 4-3 before wrapping it up 6-4.

Elsewhere, junior Wimbledon doubles champion Sumit Nagal had a tough work out against the experienced Purav Raja who had come through the qualifying rounds. The scoreline of 6-4, 6-4 seemed straightforward, but Purav’s game was something that Nagal will rarely encounter on the tour and that’s what made the win all the more impressive.

The doubles specialist in Purav chipped and charged, sliced the backhand return instead hitting through them. But he ultimately succumbed to the much fitter and younger Nagal.

“Very rare,” was how Nagal described Purav’s game later. “It was very tough match. Happy to go through,” he said.

Results

Round one: Singles: Yuki Bhambri bt Anvit Bendre 6-3, 6-3; Nikola Milojevic (Srb) bt Michal Konecny (Cze) 6-4, 6-1; Prajnesh Gunneswaran bt Temur Ismailov (Uzb) 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (6); Ti Chen (Tpe) bt Yannick Mertens (Bel) 6-4, 7-6 (0); Vishnu Vardhan bt Egor Gerasimov (Blr) 6-4, 7-5; Sumit Nagal bt Purav Raja 6-4, 6-4; Alexander Kudryavtsev (Rus) bt Stephane Robert (Fra) 6-3, 7-6 (9); Ramkumar Ramanthan bt Gerard Granollers (Esp) 7-6 (6), 6-4.

Doubles: Chen & Konecny bt A Bega (Ita) & M. Janvier (Fra) 6-3, 7-6 (4); Nagal & Vishnu Vardhan bt Bendre & Mohit Jayaprakash 7-6 (1), 6-4; Germain Gigounon (Bel) & Mertens bt Arthur De Greef (Bel) & Robert 6-2, 6-2.