PUNE: Yuki Bhambri advanced to the main draw of the $2 million Dubai Duty Free championships after overcoming compatriot Ramkumar Ramanathan in the second and final qualifying round on Sunday.
Bhambri, who had a 4-1 record against the Chennai lad going into the match, maintained his stranglehold with a 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 victory in just over two hours in the ATP 500 Series hard court event.
The 28-year-old Delhi lad, on the comeback trail from a more than two-year long injury layoff, will be up against Slovenia’s World No. 62 Aljaz Bedene in the opening round.
Should he get past the 31-year-old, Bhambri, who entered the event with a Protect Ranking and placed in the top half of the main draw, will face 10th seed Borna Coric of Croatia.
Austria’s US Open champion Dominic Thiem is the top seed and Russian Andrei Rublev is the second seed.
It was a typical Bhambri performance on Sunday as he withstood the big serves of Ramkumar before asserting his authority.
The 26-year-old Ramkumar delivered 11 aces while Bhambri had only three against name. But the former No. 83 outscored his fellow Indian in all other departments.
He won 77 percent of his first serve points and 53 percent on the second. The corresponding figures for Ramkumar were 70 and 47.
The key stat was that Bhambri converted all the four breakpoints he forced while Ramkumar wasted five of the seven opportunities he had.
Bhambri had previously beaten Ramkumar in the finals of ATP Challengers in Taipei (2018) and Pune (2017); in the second round of Indian Wells (2018) and Chennai Open first round (2017).
Ramkumar’s lone win against Bhambri came in the second round of a Challenger in Indore in 2014.