Yuki Bhambri's seventeen-match winning streak at the DLTA complex was brought to an end by fifth-seeded Divij Sharan 1-6, 6-4, 2-6 in the quarter-finals of the $15,000 Central Bank International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournament in New Delhi on Thursday.
Yuki, seeded fourth, had earlier beaten Sharan in straight sets enroute his third ITF title win here last week. But Thursday the 17-year-old's game was rusty from the start even as Sharan came up with a solid all-round game to enter his first ITF semi-finals of the year.
Sharan next plays second-seeded Vishnu Vardhan, who overcame Purav Raja 6-7(8), 6-3, 7-5.
Sixth seed and last week's finalist Rohan Gajjar upset third seed Hyun-woo Nam of South Korea 6-0, 6-3 to set up a semi-final clash with top-seed Kento Takeuchi of Japan whom he had beaten last week. Takeuchi beat seventh seed and national champion Ranjith Virali-Murugesan 6-3, 6-3.
The 22-year-old left-handed Sharan showed good pair of hands at the nets and hit some deft volleys to complement his groundstrokes. Yuki's five double faults in the first set only compounded his misery. He had to remain content with just a game in the first set when he broke Sharan in the sixth game.
A few unforced errors by Sharan allowed Yuki to bounce back in the second set and with a backhand pass on his third break point in the ninth game, he broke Sharan for 5-4 lead before serving out the set.
Sharan continued to play with confidence in the decider and eked out an early break in the second game. Yuki had his chances to break back in the fifth game but squandered three break points. Sharan then went on to win the set and the match in the eighth game when Yuki committed his seventh double-fault on the match point.
Yuki said he committed far too many errors to lose his hold on the match. "It was definitely not the best of the match I played. I had chances to break but I could'nt convert them.
"Divij likes to come in to the net but today I could not come up with enough passing shots. Of course, he played much better than me. But my feet weren't moving today and the heat also took a toll on me," said Yuki, who will fly to Syria Sunday for another ITF tournament.
Sharan said a change of tactics from him helped him beat Yuki.
"When I played him last time, I played the way I was playing every other opponent. You have to play each player differently and that's what I did today. I kept coming to the net despite his coming with the passing shots," Sharan said.
"Yuki came up with some good shots in second set while I committed errors. But I played the big points well today."