India's top-ranked men's singles player Yuki Bhambri has qualified for the main draw of Australian Open 2018, starting Monday (January 15) in Melbourne. He will take on former runner-up Marcos Baghdatis in the first round.
The world number 121 had to work his way through the qualifying rounds as he did not get a direct berth for the season's first Grand Slam.
The 25-year-old defeated Canada's Peter Polansky (ranked 139) 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the final qualifying round match on Sunday to make his third main draw appearance in Melbourne after his stints in 2015 and 2016.
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Bhambri struggled to hold even a single serve in the first set against lower-ranked Polansky. However, he came back strong to take the match without letting his opponent break even a single serve in the last two sets.
Notably, Bhambri was knocked out of Australian 2015 as early as in the first round by former world number Andy Murray. He faced a similar exit the following year after losing to Tomas Berdych.
"I think it was a nervous start but once I got my rhythm a little bit, I started playing more freely. Hoping I can win a few rounds in the main draw," Bhambri spoke of his win, as quoted by The Hindu.
It will be interesting to see how Bhambri goes about his business against the big names in Melbourne.
The Delhi youngster should take confidence from his win over Gael Monfils in Citi Open last year. He also ended 2017 season on a high winning a Challenger in Pune and finishing as runner-up in Bengaluru in November.
Ramkumar fails to join Bhambri into the main draw
Meanwhile, Ramkumar Ramanathan faltered at the final hurdle as he lost the third and final qualifying match against higher-ranked Vasek Pospisil of Canada on Sunday. The big-serving Tamil Nadu player came back after losing the first game but was beaten 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.