Devvarman advances without hitting a ball; Myneni exits

The last month-and-a-half has particularly been kind to Yuki Bhambri.

It has featured a run to the quarterfinals at the Aircel Chennai Open, a third-round finish in doubles at the Australian Open and two facile wins in the Davis Cup against Chinese Taipei. On Thursday, at the Shriram Capital-P.L. Reddy Memorial ATP $50,000 Challenger, it got a bit sweeter.

Bhambri entered the singles semifinals, following a 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over Frenchman Lucas Pouille, to set up his maiden clash against top seed Somdev Devvarman, who advanced courtesy a forfeit by Spain’s Jordi Samper-Montana due to food poisoning. Later in the day, in the company of Michael Venus, Bhambri made the doubles semifinals too.

“I am enjoying it,” said Bhambri. “It’s good to reach both semis. Against Somdev it’s going to be tough. I need to be patient. I need to stay with him. If I do that I’ll give myself a shot.”

Thursday’s quarterfinal workout — a two-hour contest under bright sunshine — in hindsight just seems apt.

Bhambri broke Pouille in the third game but couldn’t capitalise on the promising start. Though he got into good positions to execute his forehand, it was hardly penetrative. The much more powerful Frenchman got to the ball easily, changed direction and dictated the play.

“I let the first set slip too easily,” Bhambri said. “I gave him a lot of free points. I needed to be steady. Once I did that, he had to hit that extra ball and as the match went on I played much better.”

Coming to the net

In the second and the third sets, Bhambri came a lot more to the net and found success. His use of the short-angle groundstrokes forced Pouille beyond the tramlines and opened up the courts for winners.

His serving at crucial junctures — when he faced break points at 2-2 in the second and 4-2 in the third — was immaculate. He was also helped by a barrage of unforced errors and eight double faults by Pouille.

The only cause for worry however might be his breakpoint conversion rate. Bhambri earned 17 breakpoint opportunities but converted only seven; a largesse which he might do well not to expect from Devvarman.

“Yuki is playing great,” said the 103-ranked Devvarman. “He takes the ball early and puts his opponent under pressure from the first ball. So I need to be on top of my game.”

The other semifinal will be an all-Russian duel between second seeded Evgeny Donskoy and Alexander Kudryavtsev.

While Donskoy overcame Sanam Singh 7-5, 6-4, Kudryavtsev thrashed Saketh Myneni 6-0, 6-2 in less than 50 minutes.

The results (Quarterfinals):

Singles: Somdev Devvarman bt Jordi Samper-Montana (Esp) (walkover); Yuki Bhambri bt Lucas Pouille (Fra) 3-6, 6-2, 6-2; Alexander Kudryavtsev (Rus) bt Saketh Myneni 6-0, 6-2; Evgeny Donskoy (Rus) bt Sanam Singh 7-5, 6-4.

Doubles: Sriram Balaji & Blaz Rola (Slo) bt Steven Diez (Can) & Daniel Munoz-De La Nava (Esp) 6-3, 6-2; Ti Chen (Tpe) & Marek Semjan (Svk) bt Gerard Granollers (Esp) & Adrian Menendez-Maceiras (Esp) 6-7 (5), 6-4, 10-6.

Ruben Gonzales (Phi) & Artem Sitak (Nzl) bt Hsien-Yin Peng (Tpe) & Tsung-Hua Yang (Tpe) 6-4, 7-5; Yuki Bhambri & Michael Venus (Nzl) bt Thomas Fabbiano (Ita) & Agustin Velotti (ARG) 6-2, 6-3.

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