The only Grand Slam that Janko Tipsarevic can ever boast of is the Australian Open juniors title,back in 2001. It is probably the only theme common between the Serb and his opponent in the second round of the Chennai Open Yuki Bhambri.
When Bhambri held aloft the junior Norman Brookes trophy in 2009,he had done what only three other Indians had in the history of the game. Ramanathan Krishnan,son Ramesh,and Leander Paes had all won the junior Grand Slam singles titles on the skidding lawns of Wimbledon,Bhambri managed the equivalent on the slow Deco Turf courts in Australia.
Lost in transition
Yet,he somehow never managed to make the jump to the senior level like the rest of them. Making the transition with relative ease,Ramesh peaked as high as 23rd in the world,while Paes hit 73. Bhambri,four years after turning pro and three after living his finest hour,still ranges between a best of 321 to his current ranking of 345. In between,he fell as low as 556th in the world.
But when the day comes,despite being 240-odd ranks lower than India’s best singles player,he will walk onto the centre court as the country’s only second round singles player in their only home ATP event. And for that,the 19-year old had to do something he had never pulled off in his professional career win the first round of an ATP event.
While Karol Beck,ranked 101 in the world,was the biggest scalp of his playing career by a long distance,just standing on the other side of Tipsarevic’s court could well trigger a personal renaissance.
He’s one of the best out there,and I have nothing to lose, said Bhambri on Monday. You usually don’t when you are the lowest-ranked wild card taking on the highest-ranked seed.
In the three previous season openers that Tipsarevic has spent in Chennai,he has only once faced an Indian Devvarman in the second round two years back in 2010.
With Devvarman reaching the final in the previous edition,he broke a thousand hearts then,and will almost surely do the same this time around as well. But when the two shake hands for the toss on Thursday evening,there will be one stat that will probably not be on anybody’s minds. Tipsarevic,pro for a decade,has won just two ATP titles more than Bhambri ever has.