Chennai: India's big tennis hope Yuki Bhambri put up a valiant fight against sixth seed Robin Haase before losing his first round in the singles event of the ATP Chennai Open, here Monday.
Ranked 217, Yuki fought well before losing 5-7 3-6 in the opening round against his Dutch rival, ranked as high as 56.
However, Prakash Amritraj has entered the singles main draw after winning his final qualifying round.
Amritraj came from a set down to edge past Briton James Ward 5-7 6-4 6-4 in two hours and 23 minutes.
Playing under humid conditions, Yuki fought tooth and nail in the first set but made a crucial double fault in the 12th game to give one-set advantage to his rival.
In the second set also Yuki played extremely well as he the returns so well but the experienced Haase was equal to the task.
Haase led 4-3 and then shifted gear to bring in his forehand shots in to play to gain four game points to break Yuki in the eighth game, which was enough for the Dutch to hold his serve to win the match.
Yuki had four break chances in the match but could convert none.
"I had few chances in both the sets but could not succeed. Quite a few opportunities to break his service games.
Those few points made the difference," Yuki said after the match.
"It was humid and it takes a toll. I had succeeded in staying with Robin in both the sets. But, Robin stepped up. I feel if I get lot more such chances to play against top 50 players, my progress will be upped," he said.
In another the final qualifying match, India born American Rajiv Ram also made the singles main draw.
Ram got the better of Kenny De Schepper of France 7-6 4-6 6-1 in two hours and 22 minutes.
Prakash plays Rufin Guillaume of France in the first round Tuesday on Centre court, while Rajiv Ram is pitted against Dudi Sela of Israel (ranked 109).
"I am happy that progress is coming along. I have worked hard for 60 days for this tournament before entering the qualifying," Amritraj said.
He also expressed wish to play for India again in the Davis Cup.
"I had my best moments of wins that have come along in Davis Cup matches. It was a great feeling. It was not a decision of AITA but the then sports minister brought in this rule [only Indian citizens to represent India in Davis Cup ties]. It was his decision and now that there is a new minister and you will never know what he will do," he said.
Meanwhile, eighth-seeded Go Soeda of Japan breezed through to the second round with a clinical 6-1 6-2 win over Russian Evgeny Donskoy in just 59 minutes.
Soeda, a semifinalist last year, started off strongly, breaking Donskoy twice in the first set. For Donskoy, ranked 81, this was his sixth straight first round defeat.
An elated Soeda, he was pleased to commence the new season on a strong note.
"I am happy winning the season's opener. I had worked hard during the off season. Most importantly, I concentrated on my fitness levels before leaving Japan for Chennai," he said.
Meanwhile, the young Indian Davis cuppers Vishnu Vardhan and Sanam Singh exited from the doubles event after a good fight against Benoit Paire of France and Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland.
The Indians, wild card entrants, came back well after losing the first set but lost 2-6 7-5 7-10 in one hour and 19 minutes.