India's Yuki Bhambri, Ramkumar Ramanathan progress in Tata Open Maharashtra qualifiers; Prajnesh goes down fighting

ByAratrick Mondal, Pune
Dec 31, 2022 07:57 PM IST

Yuki Bhambri, Ramkumar Ramanathan were among the five Indian players who part of the first-round qualifiers at the Tata Open Maharashtra.

Five Indians were part of the first round qualifiers at the 5th Tata Open Maharashtra on Saturday at Pune's Balewadi Stadium - three, including Prajnesh Gunneswaran, went down fighting, while two progressed to the second round, standing a win away from making a main draw appearance.

Yuki Bhambri; Ramkumar Ramanathan(Twitter/@,MaharashtraOpen)
Yuki Bhambri; Ramkumar Ramanathan(Twitter/@,MaharashtraOpen)

Prajnesh, who was the only Indian to reach the pre-quarters in the 2020 edition, returned to Pune to make his fifth appearance at the Tata Open. But his tournament was cut short by 159th-ranked Maximilian Marterer from Germany in a three-setter.

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After being broken early in the opening set, the 348th-ranked Indian trailed 0-3 before making a stunning comeback to reach the set point in the tie-breaker. However, with Marterer raising his level at the crunch moment, the German negated the threat to win the first set 7-6 (8-6).

The 33-year-old remained resilient as he broke the German early in the second set and won it 6-3 to force a deciding third, where he played catch-up until 6-5 before Marterer broke his serve in the game that mattered the most to win the match 7-6, 3-6, 7-5.

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Ramkumar, a former quarter-finalist at Tata Open, made a nervy start against 175-ranked Otto Virtanen. With two double faults and allowing his Finnish opponent to capitalise on his second serve, Ramkumar was broken thrice in the opening set, which he lost 2-6. But the 435-ranked Indian put on a stunning show in the final two sets, rectifying his errors and bringing in more net play, to outlast Virtanen. He eventually won 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 to reach the final qualifying round where he will face Italy's Mattia Bellucci, who beat Vladyslav Orlov in the qualifiers on Saturday.

Unlike Ramkumar, Yuki enjoyed a comfortable win. He was slated to play against Germany's Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, but following the latter's withdrawal, he went up against Diego Hidalgo of Ecuador, whom he beat 6-2, 6-2. He will face Sweden's Elias Ymer, who received a walkover in his match against Miljan Zekić, in the final qualifying round on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Sidharth Rawat, who replaced Christopher Eubanks in the qualifying draw on Saturday, lost 1-6, 7-5, 1-6 against Zdeněk Kolář, and Aditya Vishal Balsekar went down in straight sets, 3-6, 0-6, against Flavio Cobolli.

The main draw matches for Tata Open Maharashtra will begin from January 2 onwards.

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