A little after noon, about the only thing that looked bright at Bengal Tennis Association complex here on Monday was the green tee on Somdev Devvarman and the cap of the same colour he wore turned around.
India’s top singles player was down 0-3 in the first set against Mohamed Safwat of Egypt who had come out all guns blazing. Happening soon after another wild card Sanam Singh had imploded against Daniel Cox --- he was up 3-1 and 5-4 in the second set and 4-3 in the decider after winning the first at 6-1 --- the Indian challenge in the State Bank of India ATP Challenger Tour event seemed in serious danger of disintegrating on the opening day.
Bit by bit, Devvarman resurrected his game starting by breaking Safwat’s serve to make it 3-1 and holding serve for the first time in the match to further narrow the deficit. When Safwat couldn’t win the sixth game on his serve, Devvarman had levelled scores at 3-3.
“I knew he had an extremely aggressive style but was a little surprised that he would begin that way,” said Devvarman, after the 6-4, 6-4 win here on Monday. “The first break of serve boosted my confidence and gradually I started playing the tennis I need to play… I now have to get ready for a tough second round now.” Devvarman plays the winner of the match between Chennai finalist Alexander Kudryavtsev of Russia and France’s Lucas Pouille on Wednesday.
Having blunted Safawat’s early charge, Devvarman looked a lot surer of his movements and against a player going for broke in every shot with a grunt to boot, he managed to extend rallies and induce errors. That Devvarman won on a double fault encapsulated how the match went after he drew level. Sixth seed upset
Unseeded Marco Chiudinelli, Roger Federer’s teammate on the Switzerland Davis Cup team, ousted sixth seed Illya Marchenko of Ukraine 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 despite being broken thrice. “I know it’s not often that you get broken thrice and still manage to win in two sets but having played Illya before, I know he didn’t serve as well as he could but it’s for him to explain why,” said Chiudinelli after winning in 107 minutes.
That couldn’t happen because after a contentious line call broke him in the ninth game of and Chiudinelli successfully served for the match, Marchenko marched out of the complex refusing to talk to the media.