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Yuki enters last eight

Yuki Bhambri, on Thursday

Chennai: Yuki Bhambri became the third Indian to reach the singles quarter finals of the Chennai Open after winning his second round match against world No. 16 Fabio Fognini even as Ramkumar Ramanathan’s dream run came to an end, here, on Thursday.

It was the biggest win of Yuki’s career when the third seed Italian, who struggled due to an injured left leg, conceded the match after trailing 1-6, 5-5. It will also be Yuki’s first ever appearance in an ATP tour tournament quarters and will help him improve his ranking.

Fognini had earlier pulled out of the doubles event for which he was supposed to partner Leander Paes. They duo were seeded second.

Yuki’s next opponent will be Canadian world No. 32 Vasek Pospisil, who got a walkover from Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu.

The 21-year-old Indian, ranked 195, is only the third Indian after Somdev Dev Varman and Leander Paes to make the singles quarter finals of the event. While Somdev had ended runner-up in the 2009 edition, Paes had reached the semi-final in 1998 when the event was known as Gold Flake Open. Paes had lost to eventual champion Patrick Rafter from Australia.

Meanwhile, the 19-year-old Ramkumar, who came through the qualifiers and shocked Somdev in the first round, put up a brave fight against world No. 38 Marcel Granollers before losing his second round encounter 2-6, 4-6.

To his credit, the Chennai lad continued to play fearless tennis and kept fighting till the last point. He even broke his formidable opponent twice in the second set.

Ramkumar rued that he could not use the chances he had in the second set. “I am very disappointed from the match. I had my chances in the second set with two breaks but he is a good player with a lot of experience. I was lacking in first serves and return side was also not good. It slowly came together and I broke him twice and failed to hold myself,” he said.

Fourth seed Benoit Paire of France gave a fine exhibition of controlled tennis to advance to the quarters of the event, beating Spaniard Guillermo Garcia Lopez 6-1, 6-4.

Talking about the Yuki-Fognini match, the Italian was good enough to trouble Yuki with his solid groundstrokes and his power-packed forehand despite his restricted movements. Yuki was ecstatic to make the quarters.

“It feels great to be in the quarter finals of an ATP tour event before the home crowd. You don’t get to play matches against world No. 16 everyday. I am looking forward to playing some good tennis tomorrow,” Yuki said. Asked about Fognini’s brave fight despite being laid low by the injury, he said: “Fognini showed why he is top-20 player, hope he recovers well before the Australian Open.”

After breaking Fognini in the fourth game, Yuki raced to a 3-1 lead but had to battle out two breakpoints in the next game before comfortably serving out the set in the seventh game.