Ramkumar Ramanathan and Ankita Raina’s campaign ends in first round.
IMAGE: India’s Yuki Bhambri advanced to the second round of the Australian Open qualifiers, defeating Portugal’s Joao Domingues, in Melbourne, on Tuesday. Photograph: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images
Comeback-man Yuki Bhambri impressed with his attacking net play in a straight-sets victory, but Ramkumar Ramanathan’s 23rd attempt at cracking the singles main draw of a Grand Slam event ended with a first round defeat at the Australian Open qualifiers, in Melbourne, on Tuesday.
Bhambri, who returned to the Grand Slam stage after the 2018 US Open, beat 248-ranked Joao Domingues of Portugal 6-4, 6-2 in just 68 minutes.
The 29-year-old Indian’s serve looked decent and he played smartly as he charged at the net to keep the exchanges short.
However, Ramkumar and Ankita Raina’s campaign ended in the first round itself.
Ramkumar played his heart out before losing 3-6, 5-7 to hard-hitting Italian Gian Marco Moroni, who came out with big serves and perfectly-placed winners.
In the women’s singles, Ankita, ranked 203, was blown away by 120-ranked Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko 6-1, 6-0 in just 50 minutes on her birthday.
The 29-year-old attributed the defeat to her bout with COVID-19 before reaching Australia.
“I’ve not taken the racquet or done any training in the last 14-16 days,” she said, adding that her preparations were hampered since she had to be in quarantine in India before flying out and she could have just one session after reaching Melbourne on January 8.
Bhambri struggled to rein in his unforced errors in the beginning but earned his first break-point in the third game with a forehand winner after a long rally.
Domigues served a double fault to hand the Indian his first break of the match.
Bhambri served the next game at love with an ace to open up a 3-1 lead as Domingues also tried to charge to the net, but the Indian’s powerful strokes pushed him back.
Bhambri fought off two break-points on serve in the sixth game. At deuce he pulled off a perfectly-placed backhand slice and then dispatched a half volley for a 4-2 lead.
After getting one more break on account of his rival’s unforced errors, Bhambri came out serving for the set but dropped the serve when his miscued overhead smash went out.
He wasn’t in the position to play that shot but went for it, anticipating that lob would land in, behind him near the alley.
The Indian claimed the set when he served again.
In the second set too, it was Bhambri who got the first break as he led 4-2. He then served out the match without any fuss.
Prajnesh Gunneswaran had won his first round on Monday.