India No. 1 Yuki Bhambri got off to sound start at the country’s only ATP World Tour event in the inaugural Tata Open Maharashtra, as he quelled the challenge of local boy Arjun Kadhe in straight sets, 6-3 6-4.
Yuki will now take on 8th seeded serve-and-volley player Pierre-Hugues Herbert from France tomorrow. On his upcoming match, Yuki said “Herbert is obviously a multiple Grand Slam champion in doubles. The conditions here in Pune favour him a bit, as he’s known to serve and volley well. But I feel confident. If I can play well, I think I have a decent shot.”
Local Pune lad Arjun Kadhe
After the match, Arjun said “Coming from playing Futures just two months back, it was tough for me to come into such a big stage at a ATP 250 event at home, against the best player in the country. It was a great experience for me nevertheless”
As the players made their entries, it was easy to judge which side the crowd was on. While you could hear one kid shouting “Come on Yuki”, all the rest were loyal to the local boy, shouting chants like “Come on Arjun Dada, you can do it”.
The set began with a couple of comfortable holds. Arjun sent down a 108 km/h ace to signal that he meant business. At 1-1, Yuki made his first move, using the accuracy in his groundstrokes to break Arjun and draw first blood. Just as one thought that Yuki had got a measure of Arjun’s game, Yuki made pretty uncharacteristic unforced errors to hand the break back right away.
Yuki hit a slew of delightful winners, the trademark ones that you associate with Yuki, to break Arjun in the very next game to gain a 3-2 lead. Arjun tried, but there was no way he was going to hang around while rallying with Yuki. But this time Yuki made sure that he consolidated his serve, as he held for a 4-2 lead. They then held their serves, post which Yuki broke Arjun again while he was serving to stay in the set at 3-5.
Arjun tried to change the course of the match in the 2nd set, breaking Yuki at 1-1 with some consistent tennis, and taking an early 2-1 lead with a break. Arjun’s joy was quickly short-lived, as Yuki was back to his elements, hitting crisp deep strokes to break at 15, and get the 2nd set back on level pegging.
Arjun opened up another opportunity for himself on Yuki’s serve, finding himself 0-30 up, but four consecutive first serves by Yuki saved him from danger. Yuki handled Kadhe pretty well thereafter, promptly breaking him while he served to stay in the match at 4-5.
ATP 250 TATA OPEN MAHARASHTRA
(R1) Yuki Bhambri(IND,116) beat (WC) Arjun Kadhe(IND,606) 6-3 6-4