From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.32 :: NO.42 :: Oct. 17, 2009

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TENNIS / ITF FUTURES

Yuki all the way

The world junior No. 1 appears to be having a smooth transition to the senior level. By Amitabha Das Sharma.

S. PATRONOBISH

Yuki Bhambri... on song

Winning comes naturally to Yuki Bhambri. The world junior No. 1 is slowly beginning to make his mark in the senior circuit too. The 17-year-old gave an indication of this in Kolkata recently when he picked up his fifth senior title of the season by winning the ONGC-sponsored $15000 ITF Futures tournament with elan.

Having won four titles playing in five similar grade events in Delhi, Yuki was the clear favourite for the Futures tournament on the hard courts of the Bengal Tennis Association. It wasn’t that Yuki never ran into tough opposition in the tournament. But being the youngest among the seeded players, he showed a rare confidence. And the rest of the players in his half of the draw surrendered to his all-round proficiency.

Yuki said that he was enjoying his tennis and that was making things go his way. “I started the year winning the Australian Open junior title and that seems to be setting up everything positively (for me) so far this season,” he said after registering a straight-sets victory against another promising Indian, Rupesh Roy, in the final.

Coming into the tournament after his successful Davis Cup debut against South Africa (he beat Izak van der Merwe in the dead fifth rubber), Yuki played with great certitude. “I am fortunate that my transition to the senior stage is happening almost the way I had planned,” said Yuki, who is hoping that he would be able sustain his form.

Yuki is definitely playing a big part in inspiring the young Indian players to take on dominant roles in the ITF events, which have increased manifold with the country pooling in more funds to get the players ready for the Commonwealth Games. The singles draw (of 32) had 26 Indians in the fray, which is really creditable. It indicates the growth and development of the sport in the country.

The opening round saw V. M. Ranjeet, seeded No. 6, falling to the doggedness of his unseeded compatriot Yannick Nelord, who came back from a set down to post a remarkable victory.

Third-seeded Vishnu Vardhan, the highest seed among the Indians, had to fight hard against Vivek Shokeen before making his way to the next stage. Shokeen, making a comeback after an injury layoff, won the opening set but failed to hold on as Vishnu Vardhan picked up momentum. With the second round turning out to be easy for the fancied players, the seedings remained undisturbed till the quarterfinals.

Nelord, the only unseeded player in the quarterfinals, failed to advance to the last-four stage as he lost to second-seeded Alexander Satschko of Germany. Seventh-seeded Rohan Gajjar went down in three sets to the top seed, Danile King-Turner of New Zealand.

Meanwhile fifth-seeded Yuki and eighth-seeded Rupesh caused upsets. Rupesh bent back the challenge of Vishnu Vardhan, who forced the match into the decider but could not really pull it off. Yuki easily overcame the challenge of his doubles partner Young-Jun Kim of Korea, who was seeded No. 4.

The semifinals saw the exit of the two top-seeded foreigners, Daniel King-Turner and Alexander Satschko. Playing the best match of the tournament, Rupesh swept aside King-Turner in straight sets while Yuki played his first three-setter of the tournament to get the better of a persistent Satschko.

In the final, Yuki endured a nagging back sprain to weather the challenge of Rupesh, who could never play as efficiently as he did in the previous rounds. This only made things easy for Yuki.

Rohan Gajjar made up for his poor showing in the singles by winning the doubles title in the company of Purav Raja. The top-seeded pair dominated the second-seeded combination of Vishnu Vardhan and Divij Sharan.

THE RESULTS

(Prefix denotes seeding)

Singles final: 5-Yuki Bhambri (India) bt 8-Rupesh Roy (India) 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).

Semifinals: Rupesh Roy bt 1-Daniel King-Turner (New Zealand) 6-4, 6-2; Yuki Bhambri bt Alexander Satschko (Germany) 7-5, 3-6, 6-1.

Doubles final: 1-Rohan Gajjar & Purav Raja (India) bt 2-Vishnu Vardhan & Divij Sharan (India) 6-4, 7-5.

Semifinals: Gajjar & Raja bt I-Ta Chen & Cheng-Peng Hsieh (Chinese Taipei) 6-2, 6-4; Vardhan & Sharan (India) bt Yuki Bhambri & Young-Jun Kim (Korea) 6-3, 6-0.



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