Yuki Bhambri goes down to lucky loser BemelmansMay 30, 2018
At the start Yuki Bhambri was off by a tad. He was hitting net chords, missing the chalk, picking the wrong line. He was rushing, not taking his time. A toilet break, following the first set, at the end of which he looked to be coming back, appeared to get him going.
The Indian took a 4-2 lead in the second set of his French Open first-round clash against Belgium’s Ruben Bemelmans.
The former junior world no.1 then reached for the accelerator only to find he didn’t quite have the next level. The 25-year-old came apart disappointingly midway through the second set, losing nine straight games to the 111th-ranked lucky loser, who then served out the match to clinch his first main draw win at Roland Garros.
Bemelmans, who had failed to make it through the qualifiers of the of the French Open for eight years, scored a 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 win in 2 hours and 10 minutes.
The India No.1, who littered the court with 45 unforced errors, hitting 32 winners failed to control his opponent’s forehand, from which flank alone the Belgian had 22 winners. Bemelmans, who has made the round of 32 at the US Open and then again at Wimbledon in 2016, used his greater number of matches on clay coming into the second Grand Slam of the year, to his advantage. Bhambri, who arrived in Paris a week ago, said he was feeling more comfortable with every practice, but found out there was no substitute to match practice.
The Delhi-based Bhambri blamed his slip-slide in the second set on not holding onto the games in which he led 40-15 and 40-0 in the first two sets. In both sets he went up early breaks. “That 4-2 game was where it all turned, it was a long game, went on forever, lots of deuces. That’s when the moment shifted, in the end these are the games that make all the difference. I don’t think surface had anything to do with the result today, him playing more matches. I felt comfortable out there.”
The world no.94, who started the match in a striking red Adidas tee, switched to a white Asics shirt for the second set. He said he wasn’t between brands. “I’m wearing what I have.”
Bhambri a surprise entrant in the men’s doubles draw here, playing alongside compatriot Divij Sharan said that he would like to play doubles in every Slam and ATP Masters 1000 event if possible. “I enjoy doubles, the reason why I haven’t played it enough in Challengers is because it is difficult with the singles. The aim is to get my singles ranking up so that I can play doubles in the Slams,” he said, adding, “This one was Divij’s decision. He’s the one who is ranked so high. I needed to play with someone who was ranked in the top 50 or 60 to make the draw here.”
Bhambri and Sharan will play the latter’s former partner Mumbaikar Purav Raja and Frenchman Fabrice Martin in the first round.
In a first round men’s doubles encounter 13th seeds India’s Rohan Bopanna and Edouard Roger Vasselin of France scored a 6-3, 6-1 win over Americans Taylor Fritz and Francis Tiafoe.