The year’s first Grand Slam is around the corner and the qualifying rounds started at Melbourne Park on Wednesday. However, there was not a lot to cheer about for Indian tennis fans as only one out of three Indians in action advanced to the second round of Australian Open qualifiers. While Yuki Bhambri posted a huge win over the 15th seed, Somdev Devvarman and Ramkumar Ramanathan bowed out in three sets each.
Yuki upsets the 15th seed
After losing the first set 4-6 to the World No. 129 Evgeny Donskoy, the 314th ranked Indian played some sizzling groundstrokes to take the second set 6-1. In a hard-fought decider, Yuki earned the vital break to go up 7-6. He then closed out the match calmly for the 4-6, 6-1, 8-6 upset victory over the 15th seed.
Yuki has a tough second round qualifying clash against World No. 165 Yoshihito Nishioka on Thursday. The Japanese recently beat Bhambri at the 2014 Asian Games in three sets.
However, Yuki remained the only successful Indian to make it through to the second round as his compatriots didn’t have the same fortune.
Somdev loses despite leading in decider
World No. 139 Somdev Devvarman who is currently going through a lean patch, lost 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to World No. 154 Austin Krajicek. The top-ranked Indian showed some great fighting skills to level the match when he took the second set after saving a plethora of break points. Somdev even went up 2-0 after breaking his American opponent early in the decider. Unfortunately he could not carry on the momentum much longer and crashed out in the first round of qualifying.
Ramkumar bows out
In the last match on Court 14, India’s rising talent Ramkumar Ramanathan fought hard but succumbed to a 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 defeat to World No. 254 Nils Langer of Germany. Much like Somdev, he too secured a set before conceding an early break in the deciding set which turned the match in the German’s favour.
While it was disheartening to see Somdev going down despite being in the lead, Ramkumar can take a lot of positives from this loss. This was the 20-year-old Ramkumar’s first Grand Slam qualifying match and this experience will stand him in good stead for the future Slam matches.
Yuki has a tough match indeed but he knows the conditions well having won the junior Australian Open back in 2009. Let’s hope the 22-year-old can keep the Indian flag flying high.