Melbourne: Yuki Bhambri failed to clear the first hurdle as he bowed out of the Australian Open qualifiers after losing the opening round match to 28th seed Italian Potito Starace, here on Wednesday.
The 21-year-old Indian youngster made a good comeback after losing the first set but could not maintain the momentum against world number 153 opponent, losing 3-6 6-1 2-6 after one hour and 45 minutes.
After making it an even affair with his second set win, Yuki could not cash in on the chances he got in the decisive third set as he squandered three of the four breakpoints and dropped his own serve thrice.
Starace, a top 30 player in 2007, won 85 points to 79 of Yuki. The Italian hit 26 winners while Yuki 23.
However, Yuki is set to make his Grand Slam debut as he will compete in the doubles event of the Australian Open with New Zealand partner Michael Venus, with whom he won the wild card play-off event in China.
Yuki had reached the singles semifinals in that event, where the winner was awarded a wild card entry into the Australian Open.