Tag Archive: Yuki Bhambri

Challenger Tennis Top Ten Players To View (Part II)

Part two in my epic mini-series, in which I altruistically point your eyeballs towards challenger-level players who are oh-so-well worth watching. If you need to know the methodology behind these selections, or just would like to (re)familiarize yourselves with the tennistical forces of nature that are the first two men in this series (said forces would be Sam Groth and Dustin Brown), here is Part I.

Now then. Every single damn day, it seems, my next subject makes me regret not choosing him as one of my Top Ten Players to Watch for 2014. After all, the dude has a 10/3 record on the year, with wins over Pablo Carreno-Busta and Somdev Devvarman among others. Plus a challenger title in both singles and doubles.  So I’m certainly not going to whiff on my opportunity to include him on my Players to View list.

I’m typing, of course, about…

Yuki Bhambri

Less than six months ago, this 21-year-old Indian lad had a ranking of #593. But then, after missing all of May and June with injury, he made the finals of the $120,000 Kaohsiung Challenger in heroic fashion, and posted a 30/6 record to finish his 2013 campaign, rising to #195 on the ATP Rankings Manifest.

And now, the Australian Open Boys and Orange Bowl champ of 2009 will be a career high ~#142 when the new rankings come out this Monday.

Someday I'll Stop Using This One Pic I Have of Yuki. But It Won't Be Today.

Someday I’ll Stop Using This One Pic I Have of Yuki. But It Won’t Be Today.

Blessed with a pure, natural-looking ball-striking ability and penetrating groundies which I’ve often compared to those of Marin Cilic, Bhambri needs only to shore up his serve before he becomes an ATP Tour-Level regular. And to stay healthy, of course.

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*sings* It’s the most wonderful tiiiiime, of your daaaaayyyyyyy. *unsings*

It’s the hit that keeps coming. It’s the gift that keeps giving. That’s right: it’s time for this week’s W.A.T.C.H. List, where we see Who’s Achieved Their Career High (between #60-300ish, as ever) this week:

Player NATIONALITY Age New High Why
Bradley Klahn USA 23 67 West Lakes W
Jesse Huta Galung NED 28 91 others lost points
Dusan Lajovic SRB 23 99 ATP Zagreb R2
Facundo Arguello ARG 21 112 ATP Vina del Mar FQR
Dominic Thiem AUT 20 113 others lost points
Daniel Evans GBR 23 123 ATP Zagreb SF
Victor Estrella DOM 33 132 Dallas SF
Yuki Bhambri IND 21 145 Chennai W
Hiroki Moriya JPN 23 167 West Lakes SF
Taro Daniel JPN 21 190 ATP Vina del Mar QF
Steven Diez CAN 22 193 Chennai R2
Albano Olivetti FRA 22 207 ATP Montpellier Q/QF
James McGee IRL 26 209 Dallas QF
Austin Krajicek USA 23 210 ATP Montpellier FQR
Andrea Collarini ARG 22 242 Argentina F1 W
Jarmere Jenkins USA 23 259 West Lakes QF
Grzegorz Panfil POL 26 279 others lost points
Yann Marti SUI 25 281 Turkey F1 W
David Rice GBR 25 283 GBR F3 W
Jose Pereira BRA 23 314 Egypt F3 SF
This Space Left Empty Intentionally

As with the List two weeks ago, this week’s cast of characters are a very geographically variegated variety, verily. Fifteen nations in all, of the twenty on the List, with only four countries with multiple career high achievers — the United States (3), Argentina (2), Japan (2), and Great Britain (2).

So there’s plenty of reasons for everyone to flag wave and chant and do whatever it is fervent nationalists get up to in the name of their tennistical fanaticism. RAH!

Individually, I’d like to focus on the ATP-level heroics of one Daniel Evans*, who somehow turned his missing the Maui Challenger due to “late”ness and being cast out from his Davis Cup team into a brilliant personal triumph, as he parlayed his main draw appearance as a skilled loser** into a semifinal showing, beating 27th-ranked Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarterfinals and winning hearts and matches along the way.

Pro Evo - Our Man Strikes A Casual Pose In Oz

Pro Evo – Our Man Strikes A Casual Pose In Oz

For his efforts, Evo rose 23 spots in this week’s rankings and finally made good on a talent that’s been glaringly apparent for years and years. I myself have been bigging him up since his (two-loss) effort vs. Lithuania in Davis Cup 2010, and I know I’m way late to the party. But it’s (allegedly) because Evans is never late to any party*** that it’s taken him so long to make good on his talent.

Now, word is that he’s working hard and the results are evo-dent. I, for one, hope it continues.

Another guy I’ve been talking about for quite some time is India’s Yuki Bhambri, I watched him practicing three years ago at the ATP 250 Delray Beach and was struck**** by his clean ball-hitting, which I compared to that of Marin Cilic at the time.

Bhambri's Been A Thumper Again This Week

Bhambri’s Been A Thumper Again This Week

Now the 21-year-old is riding a seven-match win streak, taking both the singles and doubles titles at the Chennai Challenger as well as prevailing in two Davis Cup matches in India’s 5-0 triumph over Taiwan the week before.  After an injury-bedeviled 2012, the still-young up-and-comer is 48/16 since the start of 2013, with two Challenger and two Futures titles.

So up he comes, 29 spots to #145 on this week’s ATPecking Order.

“Has India found a new tennis star?” asks the Sportskeeda website. I, for one, say “yes.”

*since he didn’t get any press this week, at all.

**a term I much prefer over “lucky loser”

***there wasn’t one in Maui, apparently.

****not literally, thankfully.

Whaddup, W.A.T.C.H.ers.

I was feeling especially industrious today, so I brought back a column of info that I used to have in WATCH Lists of yore: the “Why” column, which details what exactly a player did to achieve their career high this week.  You lucky devils.  So let’s do it:

Player NATIONALITY Age New High Why
Pablo Carreno-Busta ESP 22 65 Paris QR2
Tim Smyczek USA 25 82 others lost points
Julian Reister GER 27 85 Seoul F
Oleksandr Nedovyesov UKR 26 95 Eckental R2
Bradley Klahn USA 23 118 Traralgon F
Dominic Thiem AUT 20 122 Casablanca W
James Duckworth AUS 21 132 Traralgon SF
Facundo Arguello ARG 21 135 Montevideo R2
Guido Andreozzi ARG 22 143 Montevideo R2
Pierre Hugues-Herbert FRA 22 160 Paris R2
Gerald Melzer AUT 23 179 Casablanca SF
Norbert Gombos SVK 23 192 Geneva QF
Damir Dzumhur BIH 21 197 others lost points
Tim Puetz GER 25 207 Eckental SF
Jordi Samper-Montana ESP 23 211 others lost points
Mohamed Safwat EGY 23 214 Casablanca QF
Filip Peliwo CAN 19 245 Charlottesville R2
Valery Rudnev RUS 25 252 Seoul R2
Thiago Monteiro BRA 19 254 Montevideo R2
Hiroki Kondo JPN 30 275 Seoul R2
Tak Khunn Wang FRA 22 293 Spain F36 W

Today we welcome to the fold a new* WATCH Lister, Mr. Bradley Klahn. In contrast to recent List regulars like Dominic Thiem, Gerald Melzer, and Tim Smyczek — all of whom have charted career highs in six of the last nine weeks — the Stanford grad’s been drifting around the ATP rankings table of late; he’s been within 11 spots of his previous personal best (#123) since winning the Aptos Challenger in early August, before finally breaking through Down Under.

The 23-year-old was one of a very few Americans who sought his points outside of the States this week, and the move paid off for him as he made it to the finals of the Traralgon Challenger in Australia, going down to India’s Yuki Bhambri in a ridiculously close and rain delayed affair 7-6(13) 3-6 4-6. (For more on that match, check out the superb coverage provided by our friends at Aceland Tennis.)

The Wrath of Klahn - photo courtesy of Aceland Tennis

The Wrath of Klahn – photo courtesy of Aceland Tennis

During his years at Stanford, Klahn was a three-time All-American in both singles and doubles and was the 2009-10 NCAA Singles champ. This is his first full year on the pro tour, and he’s the latest of many former U.S. college players to appear on the W.A.T.C.H. List.  The upcoming week finds him at the Yeongwol Challenger, as the fourth seed in a stronger field.

Moving right along, Pierre-Hugues Herbert has been on the List five times in the past nine weeks, but it’s how he did it that bears noting this time around.  The 22-year-old Frenchman got a WC in qualifying at the ATP 1000 in Paris (Bercy), and knocked off Horacio Zeballos and Kenny de Schepper to qualify (coming back from a set and a break down and saving match point vs. the former).

But he didn’t stop there.  In the main draw, P2H maintained his focus while Benoit Paire managed to implode spectacularly on the other side of the net (as is his fashion).

Herbert Signs Your Computer Monitor After His Win Vs. Paire

Herbert Signs Your Computer Monitor After His Win Vs. Paire

And in the next round he was perilously close to taking the first set from some mug named Novak Djokovic.  Though he didn’t win the match, he became a cause celebre in Paris for the remainder of the week, playing dubs with the Schepper and making TV appearances all over town.

As Tennis East Coast reported, players at the Charlottesville Challenger cheered Herbert on, watching the lanky lad on Tennis Channel in the players lounge, thrilled to be watching one of their own making a splash at such an elite level.  You can practically see the thought bubbles above their heads when you picture it, right?  It reads: “If he can do it, why can’t I?”

And indeed, a few of those very players are sure to appear on these W.A.T.C.H. List pages one of these days.  Stay tuned.

*new in the past 9 weeks, anyway.

Challenger Round-Up: This Week’s Top Stories

There have been seven (7) (SEVEN!!!) challengers happening all around the globe this week, so there’s bound to be a bunch of interesting stories.  Here are the best of them:

€64,000 Izmir Challenger (Hard, Acrylic) – Izmir’s been center stage for the amazing and continuing comeback of Irish(ger)man Louk Sorensen.  After not playing a pro match between July 2012 and July 2013 (that’s a whole year — I did the math!), the 28-year-old started his ’13 campaign with three wins and three losses. Since then, he’s gone on a ten-and-three tear.  This includes a six-match win streak at Izmir alone, where he’s run the gauntlet from qualies all the way to the final. Sunday he faces top-seeded Mikhail Kukushkin for the title.

Louk Out!

Louk Out!

Also worth noting is a good week of work from Izmir doubles champions Tennys Sandgren and Austin Krajicek. The second seeds took down the 4th-seeded team of Brydan Klein and Dane Propoggia 7-6(4) 6-4.  It was the pair’s second challenger title together (2013 Tallahassee Chally).


Sandgren and Krajicek: A UT/TAMU-Powered Pairing

€30,000 Kenitra Challenger (Red Clay) – Dominic Thiem took home the championship here, and his road to the title was rife with rubbernecking opportunities.  For instance, I still don’t know what to make of the 20-year-old Austrian’s animal-caught-in-a-trap caterwauling in celebration of a big point during his 6-7(7) 6-0 7-6(2) Austrian Grudge Rematch with Gerald Melzer.  Said match was contested with an intensity befitting a final, owing to the fact that most pro tennis-playing Austrians are upset with Thiem; he sat out their recent Davis Cup tie due to his not receiving what he felt is proper monetary compensation, you see*.

When Gerald beat Dom a couple of weeks ago at the Meknes Challenger, older brother Jurgen tweeted thusly:

jurgen's celebratory tweet

And if that weren’t enough, then there was the actual final, where Teimuraz Gabashvili retired with Thiem serving just two points from the title.  That’s right: with Thiem leading 7-6(4) 5-1 30-0, the Basher just quit.  He had seen a trainer earlier in the set, but was not visibly injured. He’d just battled through many deuces in the penultimate game, before tanking the first two points on the D(en)ominator’s** serve. Made for a very surreal trophy ceremony a few minutes later, I must say.

Thiem About To Pick Up His Trophy And Monetary Consideration

Thiem About To Pick Up His Trophy And Monetary Consideration

$35,000 Campinas Challenger (Red Clay) – The title match here will be contested between unseeded Facundo Bagnis and Guilherme Clezar, but special mention must be made of 20-year-old American Bjorn Fratangelo making his first ever challenger semi-final here.  So this is that special mention.

Seeing as the 2011 Roland Garros Boys Champion hadn’t had a main draw challenger win before this tourney, to go down to Brazil and get three main draw wins there (including one against an actual Brazilian) is an excellent effort. And when the new rankings come out on Monday, Bjorn will rocket past his career high of ATP #331 all the way into the Top 300.  As you might recall, some idiots were just writing about the lack of young Americans posting career highs of late; hopefully this will shut them up.



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