Sunil Kumar Sipaeya was the only Indian player to advance to the second round of the $ 50,000 ATP challenger tournament in New Delhi on Monday as his compatriots Ashutosh Singh and Yuki Bhambri failed to cross the first hurdle.
Wild card Sipaeya overcame a lethargic start to beat an erring Riccardo Ghedin of Italy 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the first round at DLTA complex.
Teen sensation Yuki Bhambri gave a scare to sixth seed Briton Alexander Slabinski before giving it up 6-7, 5-7, 6-2 in his opening encounter.
National hard court champion Ashutosh put up a brave fight but eventually lost 5-7, 4-6 to Japanese Tatsuma Ito.
Both Sipaeya and Ghedin stuck to the baseline in the first set and hardly came on the net. Till the first seven games, the match went with serve and it was Sipaeya who dropped his serve in the eighth game to hand a lead to his opponent.
He did not put up much fight as Ghedin served out the set in the ninth game when Sipaeya's backhand sailed long.
In the second set, Sipaeya had a chance to go up in the second game, having an early breakpoint but the Italian was adamant in saving the game and he succeeded after playing six deuces.
However, the Indian finally shot into a 3-1 lead after breaking Ghedin in the fourth game, thanks to unforced errors of the Italian. From here on it went with serve and Sipaeya served out the set in the ninth game with an ace.
The left-hander made a good start in the decisive set as he saved one breakpoint in the second game and converted one on his opponent's serve in the next game to go ahead.
He held his own serve in the fourth and broke Ghedin in the next to create a healthy 5-1 lead.
The Italian won four games in a row to make a fight but Sipaeya held his nerves to survive the late onslaught to hold the 10th game and close the contest in his favour.
In another keenly fought match, Yuki Bhambri gave ample hints that Indian tennis can look forward to him, though in a losing cause.
Yuki, who is going through a transition from junior to senior level, made 291-ranked and sixth seeded opponent earn points only after a tough fight.
After trailing 1-3 in the first set, wafer thin Yuki made a remarkable fightback to lead 5-4 but eventually lost the set in the tie-break.
In the second set too no player was willing to concede an inch as first 10 games went with serve. The 16-year-old Yuki finally broke Slabinsky in the 11th when the Briton hit a forehand wide.
The Indian held his serve in the next to stretch the issue to the third set.
Surprisingly, despite having momentum in his favour, Yuki surrendered meekly in the final set and did not look even a shadow of his usual self.
He dropped his serve in the second, fourth and eighth game to crash out of the tournament.