A shoulder surgery and a long rehab may have slowed Somdev Devvarman’s progress on the pro tour, but the 27-year-old Indian proved once again that he belongs in the big league as he pushed world No 26 Jerzy Janowicz to the edge at the Australian Open. Devvarman, who defeated Germany’s Bjorn Phau in straight sets in the first round, went two sets up against Janowicz in the second round on Wednesday, before the Pole went for an all-out attack and grabbed a 6-7 (10), 3-6, 6-1, 6-0, 7-5 win.
“It was a great match,” said the Indian, who pocketed 45 ranking points. “I started off really well but it was difficult once he started going for his shots. The deciding set was an absolute battle.” He returned everything that Janowicz, a runaway favourite before the start at this match against the 551 ranked Devvarman, threw at him for the first two hours.
‘’He’s been beating quality players, so hats off to him,’’ Devvarman said of his towering (6’8”) opponent. ‘’He’s unpredictable - for a big guy he returns well, he’s got a lot of feel, and he moves OK, too. What’s dangerous about him, literally, you have no clue what he’s going to do.’’
Ever since his breakthrough at the Paris Masters last year, Janowicz has developed a reputation of being a loose cannon. And he played the part to perfection on Wednesday, serving 15 aces to 12 doubles faults and 91 winners to 88 errors. He even threw in an epic tantrum when he raged over a line call during the first-set tie-break (at 9-8), got into a prolonged argument with the chair umpire and was eventually warned.
The Indian was also a great sport as he brushed off suggestions that Janowicz’s outburst was a form of gamesmanship. The 22-year-old lost the tie-break and the subsequent set before regaining his composure. His serve found the mark, particularly in the fourth set when he fired seven aces in three games, and Janowicz attacked the net with more confidence to level the match.
Devvarman took a medical time-out at the end of the fourth set, but Janowicz was able to retain the momentum. He raced to a 2-5 lead before the Indian found the last push and brought it back to 5-5.
Janowicz, however, slammed the door shut when he broke Devvarman’s serve in the 12th game with a ripping forehand return. In 2012, the Pole had been unable to participate in the Australian Open because he “could not afford it”.
Sania Mirza and American partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands suffered a shock first round exit on Wednesday. The 10th seeded duo was ousted by unseeded Spaniards of Silvia Soler-Espinosa and Carla Suarez Navarro 6-7(4), 3-6. However, Rohan Bopanna and American Rajeev Ram, seeded 12th, beat Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios 6-2, 6-4 while Mahesh Bhupathi and Daniel Nestor ousted Pablo Andujar and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-2, 6-4.