Melbourne: Yuki Bhambri's Australian Open singles campaign came to an end despite a fighting effort against world number six Andy Murray here today but the Indian tennis player walked away with rich appreciation from his accomplished rival and the packed house at the Margaret Court Arena.
Coming into the men's singles as a qualifier, Yuki went down 3-6 4-6 6-7(3) after battling hard for two hours and 13 minutes.
Yuki Bhambri. Pic/ AFP
Yuki was sharp with his strokes and surprised Murray several times with his service winners, ground strokes, especially the inside out forehand winners which he set up with good serve. Yuki succeeded in breaking the British number one twice in the match -- once each in the first and third sets.
The 22-year-old was even leading 4-1 in the third set but Murray, the two-time Grand Slam champion, had enough experience to not let the Indian walk away with the set as he took three games in a row to restore parity. To his credit, Yuki stretched the third set into a tie-break but made a poor start by double faulting on the first point.
Yuki saved the first match point but sent a backhand return long on Murray's serve to bow out. The packed house at the Margaret Court Arena gave a warm applause to Yuki when he made his way out. He waved towards the crowd appreciating the gesture.
Murray also had words of praise for Yuki. "He played very aggressively. I had never played with him or hit with him before, so that made it tricky. He's very talented. He had an injury last year and missed 4-5 months. He should not be ranked in 300s, he will finish way up this year," Murray said.
Yuki had already pocketed USD 16000 and 25 ranking points for winning three rounds of qualifiers and after a first round exit in the main draw, he added another USD 34,500 as prize money and 10 ranking points.