Chennai: There were no dearth of chances to stage a comeback but Yuki Bhambri struggled to contain his unforced errors and was knocked out of the Chennai Open with a straight set defeat against world number 47 Benoit Paire, on Thursday.
Yuki, who entered the main draw via qualifying, squandered all seven breakpoints he got in the match to end with a 3-6, 4-6 defeat in his second round match.
Yuki played well in patches and had Paire, who was ranked as high as 18 last year, under the water but could not finish the points. It allowed Paire breathing space and opportunity to re-strategies.
A penetrating serve proved to be the saving weapon for Paire as the Frenchman used it effectively whenever he faced breakpoints.
With Yuki's defeat, India's challenge has ended in the singles with Ramkumar Ramanathan and Saketh Myneni exiting in the first round.
In other matches, second seed and world number 14 Roberto Bautista Agut had no problem in dispatching Brazil's Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-3, 6-2 to move to the quarterfinals.
Agut saved both the breakpoints he faced in the match and broke his rival thrice.
Also sailing into the last-eight round was Mihail Youzhny, who defeated Renzo Olivo 6-1 7-5.
Yuki could have put Paire under pressure when the Frenchman was 15-30 down in the opening game but was hesitant to finish the point early.
The Indian lacked controlled over his strokes as a number of unforced errors had him down by two breaking points. A wide backhand on first by Yuki gave the Frenchman early break.
Paire served the next at love to race to a 3-0 lead. Yuki got on board in the fourth and did not lose a single point in that game.
Yuki started to get into rhythm and an interesting duel began in the fifth game as he put his rival under relentless pressure. He created two break chances but Paire managed to wriggle out and served out the game with an ace for a commanding 4-1 lead.
The Delhi lad was fighting hard but struggled to contain unforced errors and had to save breakpoints in the sixth game for his second hold.
While Yuki was fighting it off to keep the Indian challenge alive in the tournament, a few fans rooted for Paire with the shouts of 'Lets go Paire, Let's go Paire'. Perhaps since Yuki had beaten local hero Ramkumar on Tuesday, they decided to support Paire.
Yuki had a chance to make a comeback as he had a breakpoint when Paire served for the set but the Indian hit his forehand wide. The plan was right but execution was not proper.
Some unusual unforced errors from Paire meant that he squandered three set points, serving double faults in two of them, but Paire finally took the set with an ace.
It was a decent start for Yuki in the second set as he served at love. Then he had three chances to break Paire in the second but converted none. The credit goes to the Frenchman for serving well in crisis moments.
Paire was now feeling the heat with Yuki coming up with some penetrating strokes. Yuki was down a breakpoint in the third but saved it. Frustrated to let go the chance, Paire threw his racquet when Yuki served out the game.
The Indian did not help his cause by conceding a break in the fifth as Paire opened up a 4-2 lead by holding his serve in the sixth game.
Yuki had a chance to break in that game but did not cash in on it. He saved two match points in the ninth game but Paire served out the match in the next....