At 15-40 down, one wondered what was going through Somdev Devvarman's mind. He looked up at his trainer Milos Galecic once who nodded his head. Bang, bang, two quick points to make it deuce.
Two more points later, the Indian had a grin on his face. After losing to Russian Evgeny Donskoy in last week's semifinal in Kolkata, Somdev beat him 6-4, 6-2 to make the final at the ONGC-GAIL Delhi Open on Saturday. "When you've lost to someone in the recent past, you want to go out there and make life miserable for them," said the 29-year-old, who made a singles final after 2011. "Last week, I kept coming to the net in desperation. Today, it was more strategic. Once I found my feet in the first set I was comfortable."
Somdev runs down every ball. "The slow court has definitely been working to my advantage this week. Most guys on Tour play an attacking game. I try to get every ball back," the world No 96 felt.
Meeting top seed Aleksandr Nedovyesov of Kazakhstan in the $100,000 Challenger final, they have played each other in the US Collegiate circuit. Somdev has two singles Challenger titles on his resume, the last coming in 2010, but he's gunning to add a third one as he aims to move up in the rankings chart.
"Had I lost, I would have complained about the atmosphere, maybe, but it's always sweeter on the other side," he grinned. "But to have such a crowd to cheer for me is really great. You don't have it when you play abroad." The national flag, chants of 'Somdev, Somdev' filled the air at centre court during the 108 minutes of play. "I just hope they come on Sunday and irritate the other guy during the final," he wished. Well, tennis fans here definitely hope so!
Sanam Singh and Saketh Myneni have had a brilliant run. Granted wildcard entries in the three Challengers, they triumphed in Kolkata and added their second consecutive crown after a 7-6 (5), 6-4 win over second seeds Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana in little over an hour. While Sanam's volleys had the opponents stumped, Saketh used his height to the team's advantage. "He was great in the end because he made sure I didn't have to hit too many balls," joked Sanam.