Tennis: Bhambri, Bhupathi go down in Dubai

Dubai, Feb 23 (IANS) Yuki Bhambri and Mahesh Bhupathi crashed out in the first round of their respective categories as the Indian challenge came to an end at the $2.2 million Dubai Tennis Championships here on Tuesday.

Yuki got off to a brilliant start by clinching the first set before losing 6-2, 6-7(2), 0-6 to Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic in the opening round of the men’s singles in an hour and 52 minutes.

The Indo-Pak combination of Bhupathi and Aisam ul-Haq Qureshi meanwhile, were no match for the Italian team of Simone Bolelli and Andreas Seppi, going down 4-6, 2-6 in one hour and eight minutes.

Despite his first round exit, Yuki will take home a lot of positives from his efforts at the Aviation Club Tennis Centre. The World No.107 gave a tough fight to an opponent who is ranked 56 places above him before eventually losing his early steam.

This was his second loss in as many matches to the Czech after also going down last year in a Davis Cup World Group Play-off tie in New Delhi.

The 23-year-old Bhambri got off to a brilliant start with 80 percent of his first services landing correctly into the box in comparison with Rosol’s 52 percent. Significantly, Bhambri did not let his much higher ranked opponent earn even a single breakpoint while on the other hand converting two of the three chances he got to close the first set in only eight games.

The Indian was clearly the more dominant player in the first set, clinching 26 of the 41 points played.

The six feet, five-inch Prague resident came out far more confident in the second set. Both players fought a hard battle with the rallies extending with each game. Both broke each other twice leading the set into the tie-break.

However, the 30-year-old Rosol’s experience came in handy as he raced away to a 5-0 lead in the tie-break. Though Bhambri won two points, it was a little too late as the Czech player closed the set in the next couple of minutes. Also, three doubles faults in the set did not help Bhambri’s ambitions.

The third set was the shortest of the match with wild card Bhambri losing all the steam he showed in the first two sets. Rosol needed the minimum of six games, which he got with three breaks of serve out of four chances, to seal the set and match in his favour.

Rosol was so dominant in the decider that he won 26 of the 35 points played. Though Bhambri also earned three breakpoint chances in the last set, the Indian wasted all to bring the singles participation of Indians at the event to an end.

Later in the day, the unseeded duo of Bhupathi and Qureshi produced an below par performance against third seeds Bolelli and Seppi.

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