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First-round shock for Devvarman-Singh

Asian Games gold-medallists Somdev Devvarman and Sanam Singh threw a kitchen sink, and more, at their opponents. Deepti Patwardhan reports.

sports Updated: Jan 04, 2011 09:15 IST
Deepti Patwardhan

Asian Games gold-medallists Somdev Devvarman and Sanam Singh threw a kitchen sink, and more, at their opponents.

But they still had to finish second best against Robin Haase and David Martin.

Devvarman-Singh, who opened the Indian challenge at the Chennai Open on Monday, went down 7-5, 2-6, 8-10 in the first round of doubles.

Semi-finalists at last year's tournament, they resembled a pair of electric bunnies, charging around the court, retrieving everything possible. Sometimes they rushed too much into their shots.

With the introduction of match tie-break and no-ad rule, doubles matches are often over in a blur, and it's those few minutes of indecision and luck that separate the two teams.

They were also up against two players with solid serves. Haase-Martin saved three out of three break points in the second set, to recover from a set down. The Indian pair also failed to take advantage of the slim 5-3 lead in the match tie-break.

"We did well to get back in the first set," said Devvarman. "We lost a little bit of focus in the second set, played a few loose points and let it slip away. And in doubles, it's just the matter of those 2-3 points that changes the game."

While Singh, having lost in the first round of qualifying in the singles, will return back to University, Devvarman will mount his singles campaign against David Goffin on Tuesday.

Defending champion out

After a gritty performance to take out the two-time defending Marin Cilic, Kei Nishikori seemed almost apologetic about the win.

"It's bad for the tournament, but good for me," said the baby-faced Japanese. "Sorry, not much I can do about that."

Nishikori checked his nervous start in the first set, put more first serves in and eventually came out a 4-6, 7-6 (0), 6-2 in a contest that lasted for two hours and 33 minutes.

With the players going neck and neck in the second set, the tide changed in favour of Nishikori as he battled through a tough service game to go up 6-5.

While Cilic managed to defend his serve, Nishikori wrested away the advantage as he breezed through the tie-break to take it 7-0.

"I am definitely shattered," said Cilic later. "This is not how I would have wanted to start the year."

Nishikori, meanwhile, has started training with coach Brad Gilbert since last month, and with a big win already under the belt, it has been an ideal beginning for him.