Chennai: At the moment, it looks like Yuki Bhambri can do no wrong. After packing off India’s No 1 player Somdev Devvarman in straight sets in the singles semifinal, Bhambri, and partner Michael Venus combined well to beat Artem Sitak and Ruben Gonzales in doubles.
India’s top two players—Devvarman (103) and Bhambri (174)—we squaring off for the first time, but the youngster was quick to take charge and force a 6-2, 6-4 results in his favour in an hour and 41 minutes in the last four clash of the ATP Challenger event in Chennai.
“It was one of my better—if not best—wins,” said the 21-year-old from New Delhi.
Devvarman, who held serve only thrice in the match, had no answer to Bhambri’s firepower, especially off the forehand, from the back of the court. Though Devvarman looked much sharper than he has in the past week, Bhambri drew first blood when he broke the fellow Indian for a 3-2 lead and then won four games in a row.
The second set saw seven breaks of serve, as Devvarman tried to rally every time he fell behind. He was testing the younger Indian sporadically, making him run end to end and the fatigue seemed to be seeping into Bhambri’s game, especially the serve, mid-way through. But he shook it off just in time to break Devvarman for a 5-4 lead and served out the match comfortably.
In the final, Bhambri will take on Alexander Kudryavtsev, who beat Evgeny Donskoy 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the all-Russian semifinal. Kudryavtsev has come through the qualifiers and overpowered his compatriot on the day, his only stumble coming when he failed to serve out the first set at 5-4.
“Yuki has really improved in the past one year,” Kudryavtsev said of his opponent in Saturday’s final. “He is playing a lot steadier now. If he plays the way he did against Somdev it’s going to be difficult for me.”
Though the Russian has a lot more experience than Bhambri, he has a 0-5 record in Challenger finals. The Indian meanwhile has won two Challenger events.
Bhambri will clash against another Indian, N Sriram Balaji, in the doubles final.
He and Kiwi partner Venus came through 6-2, 6-1 winners over Sitak-Gonzales on Friday. Earlier, Balaji and Blaz Rola beat Ti Chen and Marek Semjan 6-3, 7-6 (5).