Bhambri crashes out in opening round

Bhambri crashes out in opening round

Japans Soeda starts off in promising fashion

Bhambri crashes out in opening round

India’s big tennis hope Yuki Bhambri put up a valiant fight against sixth seed Robin Haase before losing his first round in the singles event of the ATP Chennai Open here on Monday.

Ranked 217, Yuki fought well before losing 5-7, 3-6 in the opening round against his Dutch rival, ranked 56.

Prakash Amritraj, meanwhile, entered the singles main draw after winning his final qualifying round.

Amritraj came back from a set down to edge past Briton James Ward 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 23 minutes.

Playing under humid conditions, Yuki fought tooth and nail in the first set but made a crucial double fault in the 12th game that allowed Haase to take the opening set.

In the second set also Yuki played extremely but the experienced Haase was equal to the task.

Haase led 4-3 and then shifted gear to bring in his forehand shots in to play to gain four game points to break Yuki in the eighth game, which was enough for the Dutchman to hold his serve and win the match.

Yuki had four break chances in the match but could convert none.

“I had few chances in both the sets but could not succeed. Quite a few opportunities to break his service games. Those few points made the difference,” Yuki said after the match.

“It was humid and it takes a toll. I had succeeded in staying with Robin in both the sets. But, Robin stepped up. I feel if I get lot more such chances to play against top 50 players, my progress will be upped,” he said.

In another the final qualifying match, India born American Rajiv Ram also made the singles main draw.

Ram got the better of Kenny De Schepper of France 7-6, 4-6, 6-1 in two hours and 22 minutes.

Prakash plays Rufin Guillaume of France in the first round on Tuesday on Centre Court, while Rajiv Ram is pitted against Dudi Sela of Israel (ranked 109).

“I am happy that progress is coming along. I have worked hard for 60 days for this tournament before entering the qualifying,” Amritraj said.

He also expressed his wish to play for India again in the Davis Cup.

“My best moments have come in Davis Cup matches. It was not a decision of AITA but the then Sports Minister brought in this rule (only Indian citizens to represent India in Davis Cup ties). There is a new minister and you will never know what he will do,” he said.

Meanwhile, eighth seeded Go Soeda of Japan breezed through to the second round with a clinical 6-1, 6-2 win over Russian Evgeny Donskoy in just 59 minutes.

Soeda, a semifinalist last year, started off strongly, breaking Donskoy twice in the first set. For Donskoy, ranked 81, this was his sixth straight first round defeat.

An elated Soeda, he was pleased to commence the new season on a strong note.

Results (first round, prefix denotes seeding): Edouard Roger-Vasselin (Fra) bt Andrey Kuznetsov (Rus) 6-3, 6-4; 6-Robin Haase (Ned) bt Yuki Bhambri (Ind) 7-5, 6-3; Aljaz Bedene (Slv) bt Joao Sousa (Por) 6-3, 6-2; 8-Go Soeda (Jpn) bt Evgeny Donskoy (Rus) 6-1, 6-2.