Sometimes when sweat has tilled the field of dreams just right, fortune too chooses to rain down. "Horrible, horrible, horrible…" world No 25 Ivo Karlovic summed up his time out on court after a 7-6 (4), 6-4 humbling by the latest star on the Indian sporting firmament: Somdev Devvarman.
Karlovic could not remember the last time he had played this bad. No one in India can remember the last time one of our own played this well. Devvarman had so far held out the promise of being the future. Suddenly, he has leapfrogged the chasm between hope and reality to make him the messiah.
With the opposition towering at 6'10" and with the record of the most number of aces for two seasons running on the ATP Tour, it was the serve that needed to be blunted. Not once till the final game of the match in the one hour 26 minute encounter did Devvarman get within sniffing distance of the booming delivery which whizzed past at an average of 220 kph.
Karlovic offered the Indian just two breakpoints in the entire duration and both happened to be match points. At 5-4 in the second set, Devvarman stepped up the risk by stepping in further to block back the serve. The jab forehand return forced a regulation deep volley but the forehand short cross-court pass that skimmed the net was untouchable. It gave him match point No 2. A shot like that showed the great mental strength that this man has.
Even more important than earning that break, Devvarman showed the nerve to not even offer Karlovic one break point on his own serve. “With both players serving like that it becomes a huge mental game. I am happy with the way I competed and not just with the way I performed,” Devvarman said.
The man spent a long time in the ice tub after being on court for close to four hours on account of Thursday's singles and doubles but recovered well enough to down the fourth seed. That is what makes it all the more special. Devvarman is no flash in the pan, he's the real glint of gold which rewards only after long hard panning.