Yuki Bhambri continued to sparkle on the tennis courts, reaching the fifth final of the season at KPIT-MSLTA Challenger with a straight set win over Briton James Ward, here.
Barring a few slips, top seed Yuki was in control of the game, specially when he was serving, in a 7-6 (6) 6-3 win over Ward, who reached Wimbledon third round this year and came into the tournament after winning Bangalore Challenger last week.
Yuki moved swiftly on the court, got into his zone quickly to strike the ball fluently. He also exploited the weak backhand of the Briton, often moving him near the side lines and then smashing one hard in the open court.
"He has a big forehand and I did not want him to play him that more. The plan was to move him around. There were no big rallies and it was crucial to stay with him. I think I played better match than yesterday," Yuki said.
Yuki would now look to win his second title of the season, having won first in Shanghai. He ended runner-up in Delhi, Samarkand and Taiwan apart from making the semifinal in Taiwan, Vancouver and Tashkent. There was no break of serve in the opening set even as Yuki had six chances. He did not drop his serve but could not convert the chances Ward offered him. Rather Ward served beautifully on those crucial junctures to wriggle out.
Yuki raced to a 5-1 lead in the tie-breaker but Ward took four of the next five points. Soon it was 6-6 as Yuki squandered four set points. A backhand error by Ward after a long rally handed Yuki his fifth chance and he converted that smartly. Yuki opened the court by hitting three shots on Ward's backhand and each time he brought Ward more closer to the lines. He then ripped his fourth shot, a forehand, to the right of Ward, who smashed one hard looking for a passing winner but ended up hitting the forehand shot wide.
The only time Yuki faced break point on his serve was in the seventh game of the second set. Leading 4-2 following a break, Yuki was 0-40 down in the seventh game. He saved first chance but Ward hit a forehand winner on the second. It was the second time in the match that he let Ward to make a small comeback of sorts. He had lost only two points in three service games before that. However, he served out the match in the ninth with a forehand winner.
Earlier in the day, Divij Sharan ended runner-up in the doubles with Austrian partner Maximilian Neuchrist. They lost the final 6-1 3-6 6-10 to Spanish pair of Adrian Menendez-Maceiras and Gerard Granollers.
In the title clash, Yuki will fight it out with second seed Evgeny Donskoy, who won the all-Russian semifinal 6-4 4-6 6-4 against Alexander Kudryavtsev.