CHENNAI: All roads will lead to the SDAT tennis stadium on Monday, where the Chennai Open 2017 will unfold. This edition is bereft of many stars, but still has several exciting players who can whet the appetite of the tennis aficionados.
World No 6 Marin Cilic is the top seed and he has been given a first-round bye. Hence on the first day of the Open, fans will get to see the World No 48 and sixth seed, Borna Coric of Croatia, take on qualifier Hyeon Chung of Korea at the centre court. In the other match at the centre court Thiago Monteiro of Brazil will meet Daniil Medvedev of Russia.
Earlier on Sunday, Yuki Bhambri began the New Year on a positive note by defeating Nicolas Kicker of Argentina 6-3, 6-1 in a second-round qualifying match to become the first Indian to qualify for the main draw this year.
Yuki’s idea of training in Thailand, and also playing a tournament in Hong Kong seems to have worked wonders. The large crowd, which included the likes of squash queen Joshna Chinappa, was also rooting for the Indian. Yuki always had the confidence to do well, but frequent injuries were a setback. “Injuries are frustrating, and are the only issues that have held me back. I’ve always felt my game has been up there, and from time to time, I’ve proven it,” Yuki said.
On Sunday, against World No 110 Nicolas, Yuki’s overall game showed improvement. He served, returned and marshalled the court smoothly, sending out an ace here and there, indicating that he had recovered from the injury phase.
But things were not all smooth for the New Delhi lad. Throughout the game, Yuki had problems with his first serve, which was weak and sometimes went off-target. His double-handed backhand returns too were a bit wobbly. But he has time to work on his game, before he takes on his next opponent in the main draw. In another qualifying match, Prajnesh Gunneswaran lost to Jozef Kovalik. The Slovakian won 7-6, 6-2.