Pune: Top seed Yuki Bhambri laboured into the quarterfinals of the KPTI-MSLTA Challenger event even as six other Indians, including Somdev Devvarman, bowed out of the singles competition here yesterday.
Yuki Bhambri. Pic/AFP
Yuki struggled to find his touch in a 4-6 6-2 6-4 win over Serbia's Nikola Milojevic and there was no end to Somdev's woes as he lost 5-7 2-6 to fast-improving N Vijay Sunder Prashanth. With his latest defeat, Somdev has now failed to cross the second-round hurdle 15 times in 19 Challenger tournaments this year. Prashanth was hitting the ball clean and hard and was rewarded for consistency.
"The plan was stay with him. I knew, If I stayed with him I can crack him. I knew I can challenge these players. It was more of a mental game. I have practiced with Somdev so I knew he is not striking the ball well these days," Prashanth said. After five-all in opening set, Somdev was broken in the 11th and Prashant served out the set when Somdev sent a backhand long. With a double break in the second, Prashanth pushed the more-fancied opponent out of the match.
"It was a tough day in office. I am just not playing well. Below average. I had a few chances in the beginning but he played really well," Somdev said after the match which turned out to be his last in the 2015 season. A profligate Ramkumar Ramanathan lost 6-7(6) 6-7(5) after being in command against third seed Spaniard Adrian
Yuki never played like a top seed and someone who was in authority and it was the 319th ranked Serb, who dictated terms before losing the plot. By his own admission Yuki made it tough for himself by not being able to execute the plan. He had saved his best perhaps for the last when he broke Milojevic to seal the match.
"It was up and down match. There was poor execution as I gifted away the games. I made my life tougher," Yuki said after the match. "But it is important to get through. He hit the ball flat. I was defensive and had no control. I also lost concentration. He came out playing freely and it happens when you play as underdog."
Milojevic's forehand was better than his backhand but he used his double-handed backhand to good effect, catching Yuki with surprise on a few occasions.