Yuki Bhambri capitalised where Sanam Singh could not. The youngsters, touted as the future of Indian tennis and playing their first matches of the year, did not have the most fluent of starts. But Bhambri came through by the oldest of sports adages — make your opportunities count.
He won a tough test against local lad Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan 7-5, 6-4. There were times in the first set where Bhambri looked lost for ideas, as his opponent took charge of points and refused to concede ground. But point by point, Bhambri enforced himself on the match. He seized his chance in the eleventh game of the set, breaking Virali-Murugesan for a 6-5 lead and served for the set.
Once he had quelled the early challenge, the ride was smoother for the Delhi lad as he progressed to the second round qualifiers of the Chennai Open on Saturday. He next faces top seed Illya Marchenko of Ukraine on Sunday.
For Singh, though, it wasn’t the happiest of home-comings. The 21-year-old put up a fight against Turkey’s Marsel Ilhan, but eventually lost 5-7, 6-3, 2-6. The underdog to start with, Singh still left the court believing it was a match he should have won. “I always knew it would be a tough match,” Singh said later. “I had a lot of chances. A set point in the first set and some six break points in the third.”
Also advancing to the second round qualifiers was Prakash Amritraj, who defeated India’s Vishnu Vardhan 7-5, 6-3. Amritraj will take on Canada’s Peter Polansky on Sunday.
India’s Karan Rastogi and Aisam Qureshi of Pakistan, were eliminated in the first round itself as they suffered straight-set defeats. While Rastogi lost 2-6, 4-6 to James Ward of Great Britain, USA’s Donald Young beat Qureshi 6-4, 6-4.