Australian Open 2022: All eyes on Yuki Bhambri, Ramkumar Ramanathan in qualifying
Bhambri, 29, lost invaluable three years due to a troubling knee but in a few tournaments that he has played going into the fresh season, the talented Delhi player seems ready for the grind yet again
Melbourne: India will keenly watch Yuki Bhambri's progress after his return to competitive tennis at the Australian Open Qualifiers while compatriot Ramkumar Ramanathan will enter the competition after a confidence-boosting maiden title triumph on the ATP Tour.
Bhambri, 29, lost invaluable three years due to a troubling knee but in a few tournaments that he has played going into the fresh season, the talented Delhi player seems ready for the grind yet again.
The close fight he had had against Aljaz Bedene in March was a testimony that he is ready for top flight tennis but his return came to halt again due to the same knee issue.
He began again in November, competing on the Challenger and ITF circuit and won a doubles titles with Saketh Myneni in Gurugram.
In the tune-up event for the first Grand Slam, Yuki tied up with old partner Michael Venus but lost first round in Melbourne at the ATP event.
He has got a decent draw as he has been pitted against Portugal's Joao Domingues, ranked 248 and clearing first round should not be an issue for Yuki. A good show at Melbourne Park will set the tone for him in the 2022 season.
In 22 attempts so far, Ramkumar has not yet succeeded in cracking the singles main draw of a Grand Slam and it's time that he breaks the losing trend. He will be up against Italian Gian Moroni, ranked 197.
Ramkumar has enjoyed fantastic results going into Australian Open. He has just won his maiden ATP doubles title in Adelaide with compatriot Rohan Bopanna and also won his maiden singles Challenger title in Manama, Bahrain in November.
His booming serve, a big heart to fight and nicely developed serve-and-volley game is there, just that he needs to put everything together at the big stage.
"It's amazing feeling to win my first ATP Title With Bopsy (Bopanna). A great week ended on a high note, always lived for these moments. Thankful to almighty God for all his blessings,"Ramkumar told PTI.
"I'll surely keep it going and give my best as always. I learnt a lot of things from Bopsy and Scott Davidoff (Bopanna's coach) who was part of our team. We combined well and didn't lose even one service game all week."
Another Indian in the qualifying is Prajnesh Gunneswaran, who will open his campaign against Colombian Daniel Galan, ranked almost 100 places above him at 120.
In the women's singles, Ankita Raina will clash with Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko, ranked 118.
Yuki, seeded ninth in the qualifiers, prevailed 6-4, 6-2 in the second and final qualifying round to make it to the season's first Master series event.
Yuki Bhambri could not have asked for a tougher draw as he has been pitted against world number six and two-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray in his first round of the Australian Open.
More than his indisputable skill, the recovery from injury will determine where Yuki Bhambri stands at the end of this year.