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Yuki Bhambri loses out in final round of qualifying at Australian Open 2017

No Indians remain in the main singles draw.

14 Jan 2017, 12:47 IST
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 18:  Yuki Bhambri of India reacts in his first round match against Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic during day one of the 2016 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 18, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Bhambri has made the main draw in the past two years but this year lost out in the final round

Former top-100 singles player Yuki Bhambri today lost his final round qualifying match at the Australian Open against American Ernesto Escobedo 7-6(2), 2-6, 4-6, and as a result has failed to qualify for the Australian Open 2017. 

India’s top-ranked singles player, Saketh Myneni, suffered a first-round loss, meaning India will not have any players in the singles main draw; Sania Mirza, however, is the defending champion at Melbourne and the top seed here. 

Bhambri started off slowly, at one point trailing 1-4 in the first set with a steamroller of an attack from Escobedo, although the set did not pick up steam until later. Escobedo successfully used a variety of shots, and rushed the net to outwit Bhambri early on. 

Down a double break, Bhambri mounted a stellar fight back to level scores with some great attacking tennis, using the momentum of Escobedo’s own serve and strategy to play against him. One key shot from Bhambri in that set saw Escobedo charge the net to attempt a drop shot, only to have Bhambri send a jumping smash into the other end of the court for the point – which was perhaps the most impressive of the set. 

In the end, after breaking back and evening out the playing field, the Indian took the first set to tiebreak – and won that 7-2. 

However, it appears that effort tired him out; the Indian went down meekly in the second set, 2-6,  unable to keep up with the pace of Ernesto Escobedo and committing crucial errors. 

That forced a deciding set, which arguably was less one-sided than the earlier one, but Bhambri went down 4-6 nevertheless. 

The Indian has made it to the main draw of Grand Slams before – both times at the Australian Open, in 2014 and 2015, losing to Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych respectively in his first-round matches. 

Having struggled with injury in recent seasons, the 24-year-old will look to mount a full-scale comeback this year; Bhambri and Saketh Myneni are among India’s crop of singles talents, but were the only two Indians to enter qualifiers for the Australian Open this year. 

With both having exited, no Indian remains in the main draw at the Australian Open.

The year-opening Grand Slam will commence on Monday, the 16th of January, 2017.

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