Pune Challenger: Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan set up blockbuster all-Indian final
India’s top two players, Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan set up a dream final after winning their respective semi-finals at the $50000+ Hospitality KPIT MSLTA ATP Challenger held at the Mhalunge-Balewadi Tennis Complex in Pune on Friday. Third seeded Bhambri needed 1 hour 39 minutes to dismiss the second seeded Adrian Menendez-Maceiras, 6-2, 6-4. Ramanathan, seeded fourth, stopped the giant-killing run of the Indian wildcard, Saketh Myneni with an equally impressive 6-3, 6-2 win.
The two are locked at 1-1 in their head-to-head record with one win apiece. Back in 2014, Ramanathan showed his mettle in a 7-6(4), 6-3 win over the Delhi player at the Indore Challenger. The latter avenged that defeat in a commanding 6-1, 6-1 win in the first round of the Chennai Open in January this year.
Myneni also lost another chance of reaching a final at the Pune Challenger when he and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan went down 4-6, 4-6 to the unseeded Spanish combine of Pedro Martinez and Adrian Menendez-Maceiras in 1 hour 3 minutes.
Third Challenger final for Ramanathan in 2017
2014 Asian Games mixed doubles gold medallist Saketh Myneni served brilliantly in the singles semi-final and had 79% of his first serves in but World No. 150 Ramkumar was just a bit better in every department.
The India No. 2 player made in-roads into the Myneni serve thrice and did not face a single break point on his own serve. He finished with a total of 53 points while Myneni had only 38 points against his name.
Saketh had an injury-ravaged year and has not been able to play a full season. This was just his fourth event since the Australian Open. This was also the first time he reached the semi-final in singles in any tournament this year.
For the 23-year-old Ramanathan, this is his third final on the Challenger circuit this year. He earlier lost at Tallahassee in April and at Winnetka in July.
The resurgent Bhambri, who has come back to the Tour after an elbow injury, broke his opponent thrice in his semi-final. He faced a solitary break in the entire match -- in the second set -- and saved it with aplomb.
This is his first final on the Challenger circuit in the 2017 season, the biggest highlight of which has been his run to the quarter-finals of the Citi Open -- an ATP 500 event in Washington DC.