Tennis: Indian challenge in singles ends as Yuki Bhambri crashes out  of Tata Open

India's Yuki Bhambri in action against Stefano Travaglia in the men's singles secound round at the Tata Open Maharashtra tournament, in Pune on February 3, 2022.

Tennis: Indian challenge in singles ends as Yuki Bhambri crashes out of Tata Open

Rohan Bopanna and Ramkumar Ramanathan storm into semi-finals of men's doubles

Pune, February 3, 2022

The Indian challenge in the singles event of Tata Open Maharashtra came to an end as Yuki Bhambri suffered a 3-6, 2-6 loss against Stefano Travaglia in the second round at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune on Thursday.

But the home crowd had something to cheer about as Rohan Bopanna and Ramkumar Ramanathan stormed into the semi-finals of the men's doubles.

Bhambri gave his all to stay put in the tournament, but the World No. 93 Italian maintained his control throughout the game and secured victory as well as a place in the last eight.

Earlier, Sweden’s Elias Ymer sent top-seed Aslan Karatsev of Russia packing out of the tournament, beating him in straight sets to storm into the quarter-finals.

Ymer, who came through the qualifiers, shocked World No. 15 Karatsev 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) in the second-round match that lasted for one hour and 36 minutes.

Meanwhile, defending champion Jiri Vesely, who received an opening-round bye, started his campaign with a confident 6-3, 6-4 win against Bernabe Zapata Miralles.

Sixth-seeded Emil Ruusuvuori also had an easy outing against qualifier Vit Kopriva, securing a 6-3, 6-3 victory during a lopsided last-16 contest.

World No. 163 Ymer started the game well and took an early 3-1 lead against Karatsev, who struggled to find his rhythm, playing his first match at the tournament, which is organised by the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association.

With 76% of service points won, compared to Karatsev’s 47%, Ymer comfortably bagged the opening set against Karatsev, who committed five double faults.

The star Russian, who upstaged World No. 1 Novak Djokovic on his home court to enter the Serbia Open final last year, tried to forge a comeback but Ymer showed phenomenal reflexes and resisted well with some powerful shots to level the scores at 4-4 in the second set.

Ymer then held his serves and forced Karatsev, the first player in the Open Era to reach a Grand Slam semi-final on debut at the 2021 Australian Open, to a tie-break.

“I was more focussed on my serves. When you serve well, you always win matches. I think the serve was the key,” Ymer said after his match.

The 25-year-old Ymer started strongly in the tie-breaker by racing to a 3-0 lead and then maintained his fine touch to complete a sensational victory and sent Karatsev packing.

“He (Elias) played well. I didn’t start the match well and tried to find a solution in the second set to get back into the game,” Karatsev said.

Earlier in the doubles match played late on Wednesday night, N Sriram Balaji and Vishnu Vardhan defeated compatriots Arjun Kadhe and Purav Raja 6-1, 6-4 in the opening round.

The duo of Balaji and Vardhan, which made it into the main draw as an alternate pair, has now entered the semi-finals as their opponents Gianluca Mager and Emil Ruusuvuori withdrew from the last-eight match due to an injury to the former.

Bopanna and Ramanathan were made to struggle for each point before they overpowered Austrian Alexander Erler and Czech Jiri Vesely in the quarter-final with a nail-biting 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4) victory.

Bopanna and Ramkumar, playing their second ATP event together, pocketed the first set in the tie-breaker.

After a hard-fought opening set, the second, too, saw an intense battle as both the pairs looked aggressive in their approach and were not allowing opponents to stretch the lead as scores were locked at 5-5 before the set went into the tie-breaker.

The Chennai-born Ramkumar served big to keep themselves ahead and then seasoned doubles player Bopanna struck a smashing return to make it 5-4 before serving accurately and sealing the match comfortably.

They will now meet Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul in the semi-finals. The French duo entered the last four with a hard-fought win against Federico Gaio and Lorenzo Musetti 4-6, 6-3, 10-2.

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