Champion Yuki Bhambri will open against compatriot Sriram Balaji in the $100,000 Bengaluru Open Challenger tennis tournament.
The 25-year-old Yuki, who had won the title on Saturday in Pune, will aim like other top players to push his ranking higher so that he can get an entry into the Australian Open.
That may be looking a bit far, especially for someone like Yuki who has been cautious with his schedule after repeated injury breakdowns had robbed him of many months of tennis, in recent years.
The former world No.1 junior, seeded third here, Yuki finds himself in the second quarter with fellow Davis Cupper Prajnesh Gunneswaran and sixth seed Evan King.
The finalist last week and the fifth seed here, Ramkumar Ramanathan figures in the third quarter and will start against Hugo Grenier of France.
Sidharth Rawat qualified into the main draw along with Vijay Sundar Prashanth to strengthen the Indian presence. He will play Jay Clarke of Britain, with the winner possibly meeting Ramkumar.
National championship runner-up, Suraj Prabodh playing on a wild card, opens against fourth seed Elias Ymer of Sweden.
Saketh Myneni who had a good run in Pune, beating the top seed along the way, will check the big game of newly crowned national champion Dalwinder Singh.
Vijay Sundar Prashanth will play compatriot Sumit Nagal, and Vishnu Vardhan will play Mario Vilella Martinez of Spain.
In doubles, top seeds Divij Sharan in partnership with Mikhail Elgin of Russia, would attempt to have a better run after the early exit last week.
The doubles draw has a rich Indian presence with six Indian pairs, apart from Sumit Nagal playing with Elias Ymer of Sweden, and Divij with Elgin.
The focus of the Indian players would be to stick it out and stay in the business end of the event to make it memorable for the home fans.
The seedings: 1. Blaz Kavcic (Slo), 2. Adrian Menendez-Maceiras (Esp), 3. Yuki Bhambri, 4. Elias Ymer (Swe), 5. Ramkumar Ramanathan, 6. Evan King (US), 7. Pedja Krstin (Srb), 8.Aleksandr Nedovyesov (Kaz).
Qualifying singles (third and final round): Borna Gojo (Cro) bt Antoine Escoffier (Fra) 6-1, 3-6, 6-0; Sidharth Rawat bt Timur Khabibulin (Kaz) 6-2, 7-6(5); Matej Sabanov (Cro) bt Naoki Nakagawa (Jpn) 7-5, 6-4; Vijay Sundar Prashanth bt Shalva Dzhanashia (Rus) 6-3, 6-2.
Second seed Sidharth Rawat cruised past compatirot Kunal Anand 6-2, 6-4 in the second qualifying round of the $100,000 Bengaluru Open on Saturday.
In the third and final qualifying round, Rawat will play seventh seed Timur Khabibulin of Kazakhstan, who tamed the Asian junior champion Nitin Kumar Sinha.
Vijay Sundar Prashanth outclassed Shahbaaz Khan 6-2, 6-1 to set up a final round clash against eighth seed Shaiva Dzhanashia of Russia. Shahbaaz Khan had battled past Suresh Dhakshineswar 7-6(3), 5-7, 7-6(3) in the first round.
Meanwhile, the Pune Open champion Yuki Bhambri has been seeded No.3 and drawn to play compatriot Sriram Balaji in the first round of the main draw. Wild card Saketh Myneni will play the national champion Dalwinder Singh.
Qualifying singles (second round):Antoine Escoffier (Fra) bt Chandril Sood 6-1, 6-1; Borna Gojo (Cro) bt Abhinav Sanjeev Shanmugam 6-3, 6-4; Sidharth Rawat bt Kunal Anand 6-2, 6-4; Timur Khabibulin bt Nitin Kumar Sinha 6-3, 6-4; Naoki Nakagawa (Jpn) bt Kaza Vinayak Sharma 6-4, 6-3; Matej Sabanov (Cro) bt Lakshit Sood 6-4, 6-1; Vijay Sundar Prashanth bt Shahbaaz Khan 6-2, 6-1; Shaiva Dzhanashia (Rus) bt Anvit Bendre 6-1, 6-2.
First round: Abhinav Sanjeev Shanmugam bt Ivan Sabanov (Cro) 6-1, 6-4; Kunal Anand bt Punna Vishal (US) 6-2, 6-1; Nitin Kumar Sinha bt Alexey Kedryuk (Kaz) 6-1, 6-2; Kaza Vinayak Sharma w.o. VM Ranjeet; Lakshit Sood bt Milan Radojkovic (Srb) 6-3, 4-6, 6-4; Shahbaaz Khan bt Suresh Dhakshineswar 7-6(3), 5-7, 7-6(3); Anvit Bendre bt Siddharth Vishwakarma 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
Yuki Bhambri did his confidence a world of good as he tamed Ramkumar Ramanathan 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the final of the KPIT $50,000 Challenger men’s tennis tournament in Pune on Saturday.
It was the sixth Challenger singles title for the 25-year-old Yuki, and his first in two years that have been a struggle for the major part with injuries. The 23-year-old Ramkumar was left wondering as to when he would win his maiden Challenger, which he so richly deserves.
Yuki has been more solid on his return and has been travelling with his trainer Abhimanu Singh, which has paid rich dividends. The tennis acumen is ingrained in his system, and Yuki has grown into a powerful player who can hurt the top players.
Yuki had not dropped a set along the way. He had beaten Ramkumar 6-1, 6-1 at the start of the season in the Chennai Open ATP Tour event.
On the other hand, Ramkumar had perspired to a three-set victory in three tie-breaks in the first round, and kept improving to be at his assertive best in the semifinals against Saketh Myneni, who had beaten the top seed.
In the final, Ramkumar served more aces, but Yuki capitalised on the chances to pull through. When Ramkumar put a volley out on matchpoint, Yuki was understandably delighted and jumped for joy, punching the air in celebration.
It was Ramkumar who had beaten Yuki in the first of their three meetings, and this time, it was the first time the two fought on even terms in a final.
Yuki pocketed $7,200 and 80 ATP points that should boost his rank from No.137, while Ramkumar had to be content with $4,240 and 48 ATP points. He also should improve rank from No.150.
The players move to the $100,000 Bengaluru Open next week, for bigger rewards.
The results (finals):
Singles: Yuki Bhambri bt Ramkumar Ramanathan 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Doubles: Tomislav Brkic (BIH) & Ante Pavic (Cro) bt Pedro Martinez & Adrian Menendez-Maceiras (Esp) 6-1, 7-6(5).
Pune, Nov 17: Third seeded Yuki Bhambri will clash with Ramkumar Ramanathan in an all-Indian first at the $50000 + Hospitality KPIT MSLTA ATP Challenger, at the Mhalunge-Balewadi Tennis Complex courts on Saturday.
First up, Yuki Bhambri wrapped up Spaniard and No. 2 seed Adrian Menendez-Maceiras 6-2, 6-4 in an encounter that hardly tilted away from the top-ranked Indian in an one hour 39 minute battle..
Later, fourth seeded Ramkumar Ramanathan won a battle of countrymen against wildcard and giantkiller Saketh Myneni 6-3, 6-2 in a short 47 minute encounter
In the first semifinal of the day, 25-year-old former champion Yuki continued his fine form against his the 127-ranked Spanish.
Backed by the partisan crowd, Yuki began Centre Court action on a high. After levelling 1-1 by holding serve, Yuki showed first signs of pushing the 32-year old Spaniard Menendez-Mace in the 3rd game. Yuki in his fit of resistance managed hold back two game points that the Spaniard gained, but fell short allowing the Spaniard to prevail on the third count and trail 1-2.
Thereafter, Yuki took control. With a hold-break sequence he went on to win five games in a row including breaks in the fifth and seventh games to close out 6-2.
The second set had Yuki jump to a 4-3 lead with a break, before faced stiff resistance by his opponent to hold and go up 5-3. In the next game, both Yuki and Adrian were locked in a battle royale in the ninth game. Forcing six break points, Yuki had the Spaniard comeback and hold serve, before returning to complete a 6-4 second set and dispose the last standing overseas player.
Men’s Singles, Semifinals: 3-Yuki Bhambri (IND) bt 2-Adrian Menendez-Maceiras (ESP) 6-2, 6-4
4-Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND) b Saketh Myneni (IND) 6-3, 6-2
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