There will be no Indian competing in the singles main draw of the Australia Open this year with Yuki Bhambri stumbling at the final hurdle, losing his final qualifying round to Ernesto Escobedo, here on Saturday.
The unseeded Indian lost 7-6 (2), 2-6, 4-6 to the 21st seed American after fighting hard for two hours and six minutes on Court 14. Yuki trailed 0-3 in the opening set but turned the tables on his rival, eventually prevailing in the tie-breaker to open up a one-set advantage.
However, the American showed resilience and went on to grab the next two sets to seal his place in the main draw of the first Grand Slam of the season.
Yuki, as a top-100 player, had got a direct entry here last year but met with formidable Tomas Berdych and was ousted in the first round.
Nevertheless, it’s a decent start for Yuki in the 2017 season, after a troubled 2016 during which he missed six months of competitive tennis due to tennis elbow injury.
The 24-year-old won the Hong Kong Futures title and qualified for the ATP 250 Chennai Open, where he lost to world number 47 Benoit Paire in the second round.
Other Indian in fray, Saketh Myneni had lost his first round in the Qualifiers after encountering a foot problem.
India’s top doubles players, led by Sania Mirza, Leander Paes, Rohan Bopanna and the rising pair of Purav Raja and Divij Sharan will now try and make a mark in the first Grand Slam of 2017.