Yuki Bhambri, who is fresh from his victory in Pune, starts as a firm favourite in the US $ 100,000 Bengaluru Open that kicks off at the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association here from Monday (November 20). However, the 25-year-old has to overcome a stiff competition before he enacts an encore at the fast paced courts of KSLTA.
The main competition will come from the top seed Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia, who is just a few points shy of breaking into the top-100, Saketh Myneni who has shown a tremendous return to form after a long injury layoff, Spaniard Menendez Maceiras who is seeded second for the tournament and Ramkumar Ramanathan who finished second to Bhambri amongst others.
Myneni, who lost in the semifinals last week was pleased with his performance and will go into the tournament with an open mind. "It's good to be back and I need to keep working hard and play more tournaments to go back to the ranking where I was," said the 30-year-old who has dipped from 153 to 907 in rankings.
"The conditions are tough here. Thanks to KSLTA for having given me a wild as I could not have made it to the qualifiers and I shall try and justify the gesture," said the 30-year-old who had won the doubles event at the same venue two seasons ago.
Pressure on top seed Kavcic
The top seed Kavcic, meanwhile admitted that there was the pressure of the top ranking. "People expect you to win if you are seeded at the top," said the 30-year-old who was once ranked 68 about four years ago but two surgeries couple of years ago cut his journey short and he had plummeted to 450. However, with grit and determination, he has jumped back to 102 in a span of 18 months.
"I haven't come here to win or make money. I have come here to just make some points which will give me an entry into the Australian Open in January," said the smiling pro who intends to show some around temples to his girlfriend Karin. "I still have to acclimatize and luckily I have my match on Tuesday, which will give me more time to practice," said Kavcic.
Vijay and Siddharth make the main rounds
Meanwhile there was a cheer for the Indian camp as two players N Vijay Sundar Prashanth and Sidharth Rawat claimed two out of four qualifying spots and made it to the main round winning their respective matches in the final round of the qualifiers.
While Vijay defeated Russian Shalva Dzhanashia of 6-3, 6-2, Sidharth overcame Timur Khabibulin of Kazakhstan 6-2, 7-6 (5). Frenchman Borna Gojo and Croatia Matej Sabanov were the other two qualifiers.
Results Qualifying Round 3
Antoine Escoffier (FRA) lost to Borna Gojo (CRO) 1-6, 6-3, 0-6; N Vijay Sundar Prashanth (IND) bt Shalva Dzhanashia (RUS) 6-3, 6-2; Sidharth Rawat (IND) bt Timur Khabibulin (KAZ) 6-2, 7-6 (5); Naoki Nakagawa (JAP) lost to Matej Sabanov (CRO) 5-7, 4-6.