Sixth seeded Rohan Bopanna was upset by Alexey Kedriouk of Kazakhstan in the pre-quarter-finals of the US $100,000 Asian Tennis Championships at the Tashkent Tennis Centre on Wednesday.
Serving hard and stroking well, the 448th-ranked Kedriouk knocked-out his doubles partner, winning 6-2, 6-2 in just under an hour, much to the disbelief of spectators who watched the Indian Davis Cupper serving out the first game fluently after starting with an ace.
While the Kazakh played a calculated game, Bopanna was trying to hurry things, having beaten the same opponent in their last meeting. Perhaps, Bopanna had underestimated Kedriouk and the fact that he served double faults on breakpoints twice in the first set did not help matters.
In the second set, Kedriouk ran up a 5-0 lead, breaking Bopanna thrice, and the latter broke back in the sixth game and held serve to save face.
"I didn't get my rhythm. I played to his advantage, as he likes someone giving him targets. He played smart. It was one of those days when things didn't go well for me. It is a pretty bad loss, as I tried to do too much too early," admitted Bopanna.
Kedriouk, however, will have the onerous task of having to match the top seed Udomchoke, who handled a tough challenge from wild card Uzakov in straight sets.
"It was a kind of tough for me, as I had arrived only yesterday. My opponent played good, but he missed a lot in the first set," said Udomchoke, who had reached the second round of Wimbledon this year as a qualifier and lost in the final qualifying round of the US Open.
Top-seeded Danai Udomchoke of Thailand warmed up with a good win over the strong local lad Vaja Uzakov.
Having beaten Kedriouk 7-5 in the fifth set in a Davis Cup tie in 1999, Udomchoke does have some idea of his quarter-final opponent, and he said that he would be prepared.
"I saw him play, and he is playing a lot more aggressive. I need to get my returns so that I can attack, otherwise I may be forced to defend. Well, everyone is tough in this field and the local boy Denis Istomin is playing particularly good," said Udomchoke, who had reached the final of the Fergana Challenger, beating Istomin in two tie-breaks.
The lanky Istomin was in good form though he had to face many breakpoints this day, and beat compatriot Sarvar Ikramov 6-2, 6-4.
Two Japanese campaigners who have combined age of 61, sailed into the quarter-finals.
The third-seeded Satoshi Iwabuchi handled the challenge from qualifier Karan Rastogi with understandable intelligence, while former champion Goichi Motomura wiped out the resistance of another qualifier, Vijay Kannan, after a struggle in the first set.
"The Indian lad played good and I was a bit tight, particularly in the last game. It was my first match, and for him it was fourth. This is my first Asian Championship, and I opted to play because I don't how long I will play," said the 29-year-old Iwabuchi.
Motomura was down 2-4, but did not allow Kannan to convert seven game points in all in the seventh and 11th games. Once he won the first set, Motomura pushed his level up to overpower Kannan.
In fact, it was not a good day for the Indians as seven of them lost in the singles, and had to be content collecting US $860 each, a far cry from the winner's purse of US $7,200 and a wild card for the Australian Open.
There was a lot of success for a player from the rich Kuwait, as the much improved Mohammed Al Ghareeb beat eighth-seeded Kyu-Tae Im of Korea 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(2).
The Kuwaiti turned the match on its head with a break in the 12th game of the second set and played a solid tie-break in the third to set up a quarter-final with Istomin.
In the women's section, the fourth-seeded Akgul Amanmuradova and the eighth-seeded Iroda Tulyaganova kept local hopes alive.
Akgul was particularly sharp in beating Indian girl, Ankita Bhambri 6-3, 7-5. It was a close match and the Uzbek played a lot better than last evening when she had lost the doubles match to another Indian pair.
"The last time I played Ankita, I won 7-5 in the third. I knew that she was tough. In the second set there was only one break in the 12th game. Otherwise, there are a lot of breaks of serve in women's tennis. I knew if I give a chance I would be in trouble," said Akgul.
Ankita served out the tenth game at love but could not hold on to her fight in the twelfth game. She had dropped serve in the third and ninth games of the first set.
Akgul was not ready to underestimate her opponent in the quarter-final, the unranked Wing Yau Venise Chan of Hong Kong.
"She has beaten a seeded Korean in the first round. Obviously, she must be having a good game," said the Uzbek.
The former world No.16 Iroda Tulyaganova, who had to wear an elbow-brace, had a tough first set against Denise Dy of the Philippines but put her in place in the second to meet the 965th ranked Ksenia Palkina of Kyrgyzstan.
The latter had a walkover in the second round as the top-seeded Shikha Uberoi of India pulled out at the last minute.
Men (pre-quarter-finals): 1-Danai Udomchoke (Tha) bt Vaja Uzakov (Uzb) 6-3, 6-4; Alexey Kedriouk (Kaz) bt Rohan Bopanna (Ind) 6-2, 6-2; 3-Satoshi Iwabuchi (Jpn) bt Karan Rastogi
(Ind) 6-3, 6-3; 7-Oh-Hee Kwon (Kor) bt Ashkan Shokoofi (Iri) 6-1, 6-3; 5-Goichi Motomura (Jpn) bt Vijay Kannan 7-5, 6-0; 4-Ti Chen (Tpe) bt Akmal Sharipov (Uzb) 7-6 (3), 6-3; Mohammed Al Ghareeb (Kuw) bt 8-Kyu-Tae Im (Kor) 7-6 (3), 6-3; Denis Istomin (Uzb) bt Sarvark Ikramov (Uzb) 6-2, 6-4.
Doubles (quarter-finals): 1-Rohan Bopanna (Ind) and Alexey Kedriouk (Kaz) bt Timur Ganiev and Gafur Ishmatov (Uzb) 6-2, 6-3.
Women (pre-quarter-finals): Ksenia Palkina (Kgz) w.o. 1-Shikha Uberoi (Ind); 8-Iroda Tulyaganova (Uzb) bt Denise Dy (Phi) 7-6 (4), 6-1; 3-Su-Wei Hsieh (Tpe) bt Ivanna Israilova (Uzb) 6-0, 6-3; 6-Ye-Ra Lee (Kor) bt Rushmi Chakravarthi (Ind) 6-1, 6-4; Wing Yau Venise Chan (Hkg) bt Czarina Mae Areval o (Phi) 7-5, 3-6, 6-3; 4-Akgul Amanmuradova (Uzb) bt Ankita Bhambri 6-3, 7-5; 5-Chin-Wei Chan (Tpe) bt Sanaa Bhambri 6-2, 6-3; 2-Shiho Hisamatsu (Jpn) bt Mariya Kovaleva (Kaz) 6-1, 6-1.
Doubles (quarter-finals): 1-Chin-Wei Chan and Su Wei Hsieh (Tpe) bt Shiho Hisamatsu and Erika Takao (Jpn) 6-3, 6-4; 3-Ankita Bhambri and Sanaa Bhambri (Ind) bt Ksenia Palina (Kgz) and Dilyara Saidkhodjayeva (Uzb) 6-3, 7-5; Rushmi Chakravarthi and Isha Lakhani bt Wing Yau Chan and Po Kuen Lam (Hkg) 6-4, 6-3.