It was only an hour and two minutes up, but Yuki Bhambri was out of breath.
The young Indian wild card had been swimming against the tide the whole time. Janko Tipsarevic was relentless, as he drilled one deep ground stroke after another into Bhambri’s court, as he powered to a 6-1, 6-3 victory in the second round of the Chennai Open on Thursday.
No miracle here
Just to give an idea of the task at hand for Bhambri: he’s ranked 345 in the world and was playing only his fourth main draw match. Tipsarevic is the ninth best player in the world, the top seed in Chennai, and is one of the hardest workers on the court.
“I certainly think I am not very far from reaching that level,” said Bhambri, who refused to cow down after the loss. “It was a great experience playing with Janko. I have to work a lot on the physical side because every year it’s getting tougher. I wish I had the legs to last 3-4 hours on the court consistently.”
In his first match against Slovakia’s Karol Beck, Bhambri proved he had the strokes to stay up with the big boys. But Tipsarevic showed, in the heat of the match, it is summoning up those strokes with monotonous regularity that counts. The Serb, who was by no means stretched to bring his A game, stepped in with each shot, shrinking his side of the court, while making the task constantly bigger for the Indian.
Tipsarevic lost only one point on his serve the opening set, while he broke the Indian thrice.
Bhambri, admittedly nervous to start with, though was able to engage the Serb from the baseline in the second set. But it was for too little far too late as Tipsarevic nipped the challenge in the bud.
The Serb thus takes on David Goffin in the quarterfinals, who continued his gritty run as he rallied to a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Andreas Beck.
Third seed Almagro has had an easy ride so far, entering the last eight without having hit a ball. The Spaniard, who received a bye in the first round, was given a walkover in the second as Steve Darcis pulled out.