Yuki Bhambri crashed out in the first round of Wimbledon on Monday going down to Thomas Fabbiano 6-2, 3-6, 3-6, 2-6 inside two hours and 39 minutes. This is the fourth time the two players had met and Bhambri’s run of having never beaten the Italian continued in the match where he made 61 unforced errors and 11 double faults.
It was Bhambri’s maiden Wimbledon appearance and with the defeat, India’s singles representation at Wimbledon has come to an end after none of Sumit Nagal, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Ramkumar Ramanathan and Ankita Raina qualified for the main draw. However, India have six players in the doubles draw, one of which – Rohan Bopanna – was courtside during Bhambri’s match. “It’s difficult one. Hope, I can change the result this time,” Yuki had said following the draw. And it did prove to be a difficult while he couldn’t alter the result.
Bhmabri’s game was riddled with unforced errors at crucial junctures in the match and it handed the contest in favour of Fabbiano multiple times. If the groundstrokes weren’t working, the serve didn’t bail Bhambri out either. He served 11 double faults and had a 59% first serve percentage to win just 59% of the points. With first serve not working, the second serve came under pressure but despite the heat didn’t help the ball zip on the lush Wimbledon grass as the Delhi player could only win 41% of his second serve points.
However, as a positive takeaway, Bhambri was clinical at the net throughout the match showing smart volley skills and getting himself out of a tough position with a serve and volley approach. In the fourth set, Bhambri looked to be on the cusp of being bageled as the unforced error count piled up. It didn’t help that Fabbiano was moving much better and was oozing confidence at this stage. But Bhambri saved two match points to hold serve and then came back to break Fabbiano.
However, the deficit was far too much to bridge and it was all over when Bhambri’s forehand sailed well long. Bhambri got off on the right foot after breaking Fabbiano’s serve thrice in a row, while being broken once himself, to take the opening set 6-2 in just 27 minutes. The difference between the two men was evident in Bhambri sending back winners and returning well. But that was the last of it for the Indian in the match. As the match grew on, World No 121 Fabbiano’s serve started to get better and Bhambri found it difficult to make headway.
Fabbiano took a 3-0 lead in the second set before Bhambri broke as well to make it 3-4 on serve on the back of some strong serving and volley winners. But, Fabbiano fought his way right back with Bhambri’s serve deteriorating. Fabbiano won the second set 6-3 on the first set point opportunity. In the third set too, Bhambri was undone by his unforced error and poor serving combination. With 45% first serve in and 18 unforced errors to three for Fabbiano, there was little hope for the World No 85 Bhambri. And Fabbiano got the job done when he pushed Bhambri on the volley and it had too much zip on it to be controlled and kept down.
India’s hopes rest on doubles players now – Vishnu Vardhan, Sriram Balaji, Bopanna, Purav Raja, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Divij Sharan. For the first time since 2005, there is no Sania Mirza at Wimbledon with the former doubles world no 1 out of action due to pregnancy.