Tata Open tennis: Yuki Bhambri, Ramkumar Ramanathan crash out, Marin Cilic in last 8
Yuki Bhambri, top ranked Indian at 118 on the ATP chart, did get plenty of chances in his Tata Open tennis tournament match against Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who served big but failed to back it up with consistently good groundstrokes.tennis Updated: Jan 03, 2018 23:09 IST
India’s singles campaign at the Tata Open Maharashtra, the country’s lone ATP 250 Series event, ended in the second round with Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan losing in the second round on Wednesday.
Ramanathan, who faced a herculean task against World No 6 Marin Cilic – the 2014 US Open champion – gave a good account of himself but found the 6’6” Croatia player too powerful to trouble.
The Indian is ranked 148 in the world but still managed to break the giant Croat’s serve and also played some good shots. Cilic, the Wimbledon finalist in 2017, outplayed Ramanathan 6-4, 6-3 in just over an hour.
Ramanathan had defeated Austrian World No 5 Dominic Thiem in the Antalya Open last July but Cilic didn’t give him any hopes of a repeat.
While Ramanathan would look at his performance with some pride, Yuki Bhambri would rue a lost opportunity.
The 25-year-old from Delhi, ranked 118 in the world, wasted six break points over two games in the decider to lose to Pierre-Hugues Herbert. The Frenchman, though ranked 81, is more known for his doubles skills, having won two grand slam titles.
While Bhambri missed his chances, Herbert capitalised on the let-offs, and fought back from the loss of the first set to emerge a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 winner in their second round to seal a place in the quarterfinals.
Bhambri, the best-ranked Indian singles player, did get plenty of chances against a player who served big but failed to back it up with consistently good groundstrokes. Bhambri played well in patches but a couple of poor games ended his hopes of beating a higher-ranked player.
Bhambri, trying to reach the quarterfinals on the ATP tour for the second time, broke serve in the first game as Herbert struggled. While his rival settled down, Bhambri played steadily to win the set 6-4.
However, the Indian started the second set badly. He made a couple of unforced errors, was broken in the second game and could not recover from the setback as Herbert maintained the pressure to draw level by winning the set 6-3. Herbert gained confidence in his big serve and produced some good pickups and volleys at critical moments.
“I have modelled my service on Pete Sampras as my father was a big fan of his. I took a bit from him and served it my way,” said Herbert, who served 13 aces.
The decider was a slugfest and Bhambri lost the plot. The crucial games were the second and fourth in which the Indian put Herbert’s serve under pressure. After he had easily held serve in the first game, Bhambri had three break points (led 0-40) but could not close out. Herbert unleashed a couple of big serves and scraped through.
Bhambri held serve and came up with some good returns to be 0-40 up on the Frenchman’s serve. But the Indian was thwarted again. Herbert did a Houdini act, fighting back to force deuce with a couple of unplayable serves. While Bhambri saved a game point, his French rival managed to hold and make it 2-2.
“Yuki was levelling his game and I had to play some amazing points to save the game. It was lucky for me that I could do it,” said Herbert, of saving six break points.
The twin failures to break Herbert’s serve proved too much and a disheartened Bhambri dropped serve the next game.
Herbert didn’t look the gift horse in the mouth, winning the set 6-4.
Another Frenchman, Giles Simon, too advanced to the quarterfinals. He sent defending champion and third seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spainpacking 6-3, 7-6.
Singles (second round)
Marin Cilic (CRO) bt Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND) 6-4, 6-3
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) bt Yuki Bhambri (IND) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
4-Benoit Paire (FRA) bt Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 6-4, 6-7(4), 7-6(6).
Robin Haase (NED) bt Nicolas Jarry (CHI) 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-5.
Giles Simon (FRA) bt 3-Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 6-3, 7-6(5).
Roman Jebavy/Jiri Vesely (CZE) bt Hans Podipnik-Castillo (CHI) / Andrei Vasilevski (BLR) 7-6(4), 7-5.