Somdev Devvarman must have been relieved when he overpowered Devin Mullings of The Bahamas 6-4, 6-2 on Tuesday.
The Indian, ranked 97, began the match which lasted 85 heat-singed minutes on unsteady feet as the unranked Bahamain coasted to a 3-0 lead in the first set, breaking Somdev’s serve in the second game as the Indian committed a host of unforced errors in the first two games itself.
“I played a loose game today but thankfully, I didn’t lose serve after that second game,” said a relieved Somdev and added, “The court had a fair bit of bounce which made it difficult for me to judge returns.”
The left-handed Davis Cup player from the island nation looked to be more at ease on the court, using the angles and daring to approach. He used his potent forehand troubled Somdev.
It was after being down 1-4 that the top-seeded Indian began to paw his way back and broke Mullings’ serve in the seventh and ninth games and went on to pick up the set after triumphing in five consecutive games.
The glaring sun overhead with little crosswind had Mullings baked towards the end of the opening set and the ensuing cramps may have played a big role in preventing what might have been.
After his medical time-out in the seventh game, the elements had dealt a blow to Mullings’ rhythm that had waned much to Somdev’s delight - his 19 winners as opposed to Mullings’ nine tell the tale.
The unforced errors flowed from the Bahamian during the long rallies which saw Devvarman grind him down. A double-fault by Mullings, his fourth of the game, allowed Somdev to break in the third game of the second set but the former, by sheer resilience, nearly broke Somdev’s serve twice in the sixth game but was prevented by an ace and a big forehand.
Somdev broke Mullings’ serve in the seventh game to make it 5-2 and he held comfortably to make his way to the pre-quarters. Perhaps a scare this one and hopefully the top-seeded Indian would have picked some crucial pointers for the forthcoming ties.