India's Yuki Bhambri shrugged off an indifferent start to beat compatriot and top seed Vishnu Vardhan 6-4, 6-3, to win his fourth International Tennis Federation (ITF) title in the $10,000 event at the DLTA complex in New Delhi on Saturday.
It was 17-year-old Yuki's third successive win in four meetings with Vardhan and second in a final. For Vardhan, it was his second straight loss in the three consecutive finals at the venue. In the last week's final, he lost to South Korean Kim Young-jun, who pulled out in the semi-final against him on Friday due to sore knee and exhaustion.
Yuki, who claimed three back-to-back ITF titles in New Delhi this year, had problems with his first serve initially, but soon gained control of the match. The junior Australian champion stroked fluently and hit some clean passes to blunt Vishnu's challenge. He was quick on his feet in reaching every shot of Vardhan, whose big serve deserted him this day and his backhand was also ineffective.
The 22-year-old from Andhra Pradesh, in fact, led 3-0 in the first set, Yuki dropping serve in the second game committing three double-faults. But Yuki bounced back in style, firing three aces on the trot to win his first game of the match.
That gave confidence to the Delhi youngster, who broke Vardhan with a forehand winner in the seventh game to even things out and then reeled off three games to take the first set.
Yuki then broke Vardhan in the first game of the second set, but he himself needed to save two break-points in the next game when five deuces were called. He broke Vardhan again in the ninth game when the latter netted a backhand slice to win the set and the match in an hour and 40 minutes.
Yuki said he is glad he was able to recover from an indifferent start.
"I got off to a horrible start. But then I came up with three aces. I managed to pick up the pace after that and played with aggression. I was sharp on court, reaching for every ball and thankfully most of them I was able to return," Yuki said.
"I also practiced a lot of passing shots on Friday as I know that Vishnu is a big guy and likes to move in. The fact he did not serve the way he usually does also worked for me.
Yuki, who will be leaving to train at Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, Florida, on Saturday night before playing in the junior US Open, feels he is well-prepared to take up the challenge.
"A player is always happy when he is in a winning mode. The ITF has been a good preparation and now all I need is to adapt to the courts there as they are a bit slower than the one we played in New Delhi.
Vardhan found himself groping for words to explain his loss.
"I am yet to reflect what went wrong. My serve let me down and my backhand did not work on Saturday. But, I won't be thinking too much about it. It's just one bad day this week. I have still another week to go and I will be giving my best in it," he said.
The win will fetch Yuki $1,300 and 17 ATP points while Vardhan will pocket $900 and 9 ATP points.