Yuki downs Ward to enter final

Top seed Yuki Bhambri beat 28-year-old Brit James Ward 7-6 (6), 6-3 to set up a Saturday evening meeting with Russian World No.100 Evgeny Donskoy who beat compatriot Alexander Kudryavtsev 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Yuki Bhambri will take on Evgeny Donskoy in the final of the ATP Pune Challenger tournament.   -  THE HINDU

The transition from the junior to the senior tour in tennis is akin to that of a caterpillar to an adult. It’s a time for growth. Ever since Yuki Bhambri won the junior Australian Open in 2009, he has been in this stage of metamorphosis.

Friday’s straight set win over James Ward, which sent him into the final of the $50,000 KPIT ATP Challenger, will give him a chance to define another reference point in that journey.

The top seed beat the 28-year-old Brit 7-6 (6), 6-3 to set up a Saturday evening meeting with Russian World No.100 Evgeny Donskoy who beat compatriot Alexander Kudryavtsev 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

After his quarterfinal victory over Ti Chen, Bhambri had confessed his inability to keep up consistently high levels of play and was even a tad surprised as to how “he was still in the tournament.”

Against Ward too, he had such phases. Presented with multiple break point opportunities in the very first game and then in the fifth, he squandered them all. After having been up 5-1 and then 6-2 in the first set tie-breaker he let the Brit claw his way back and only won 8-6.

However, as he pointed out later, he never let them slip out of hand. “I came back very quickly,” he said. “He was hitting close to two aces a game. He tried to shorten points; he sliced, hit drop shots. But it was one of the better matches I played.”

After having taken the first set, Bhambri went ahead 4-1 in the second. In his three service games he lost just two points. Ward too wasn’t as consistent as he would have liked to. He was constantly moved around by Bhambri so that he got less time to unleash that murderous forehand of his.

He struggled with his concentration also. Twice he remonstrated with the umpire about the crowd making a noise mid-point and even asked them if they could “shut up”.

Even amidst this, he managed to get back on serve at 3-4, before three backhand errors in the very next game handed Bhambri the advantage again. The 23-year-old Indian finished off the match by redirecting a fierce return down the line for a forehand winner.

Divij falls at final hurdle

Earlier in the doubles final, the Spanish duo of Gerard Granollers and Adrian Menendez-MacEiras came back from a set down to beat the Indo-Austrian pair of Divij Sharan and Maximilian Neuchrist 1-6, 6-3, 10-6.

After being neck and neck for most part, a streak of five straight points early in the 10-point match tie-breaker swung the match for the Spaniards.

Results

Semi-finals: Yuki Bhambri bt James Ward (GBR) 7-6 (6), 6-3; Evgeny Donskoy (Rus) bt Alexander Kudryavtsev (Rus) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Doubles Final: Gerard Granollers & Adrian Menendez-MacEiras (Esp) bt Divij Sharan & Maximilian Neuchrist (Aut) 1-6, 6-3, [10-6].

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