Chennai: Second-seeded pair Leander Paes and Marcel Granollers made a smooth start in the Aircel Chennai Open with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Taro Daniel and John Millman in the men's doubles first round on Tuesday.
The Indo-Spanish combine of Paes and Granollers took little less than an hour to get past the last minute pairing of Daniel and Millman, who teamed up following the sudden withdrawal of Stanislas Wawrinka and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez from the men's doubles draw.
Paes and Granollers were expected to have it easy against the singles specialists but Daniel and Millman made them work hard.
Daniel, an American-born Japanese, and Millman of Australia broke their opponents' serve in the first game of the match before Paes and Granollers came back to lead 4-1. There were no further hiccups for the seasoned duo in the first set.
The second set was fought more closely with both teams tied at 3-3. Paes fired an ace to win a tightly contested seventh game before they broke Daniels and Millman to make it 5-3. Granollers held his serve comfortably to settle the issue.
Earlier on Monday, Ramkumar Ramanathan recorded the second-biggest win of his career by shocking world number 98 Daniel Gimeno-Traver in the opening round of Chennai Open but there was no end to Somdev Devvarman's struggle as he was knocked out of the singles event.
Making a stupendous start to his 2016 season, wild card entrant Ramkumar annihilated his Spanish rival 6-2 6-0 as the Chennai-lad enthralled the sparse crowd by playing with lot of passion and power.
All he needed was one hour to move to the second round where world number 12 South African Kevin Anderson awaits him.
"I did not think of such a quick win. I was giving my best on every point. I knew it will be tough. I gave (played with lot of positive) attitude. I was staying positive, professional," Ramkumar said.
"The fitness part was good. I trained for three-four hours everyday, played 35 weeks last year and that made the difference. I want to finish inside top-100 by the end of this year," the 21-year old said.
Bubbling with energy, Ramkumar overwhelmed Gimeno-Traver with his power-packed strokes. The Spaniard had no clue how to tame Ramkumar's ferocious inside-out forehand which was in full force.
Before this, the only top-100 player Ramkumar had beaten was his compatriot Somdev and at this very event last year. Somdev was ranked 90th then.
Earlier, Somdev raised hopes of a turnaround before being knocked by Russian wild card Andrey Rublev.
Somdev, ranked 177th, lost 3-6 6-3 3-6 to his 18-year old opponent, whose father is a boxer and mother a tennis coach.
Somdev has not won a main draw singles match on ATP Tour since September 2014 when he had beaten China's Xin Gao at Shenzen Open.
He had a chance to change that stat as he led 3-1 in the opening set but lost five games on the trot to hand his rival a one-set lead. Somdev won the second, stretching it to a decider but dropped serve in the sixth game and could never comeback.
Rublev, to his credit, overpowered Somdev with his strokes, especially his forehand which he used smartly to play majority of his shots to a weak backhand of Somdev.
Somdev saved two break points in his first service game but a forehand error after a long rally put him down by another. He saved that too with a winner, set up by opening up the court and held for a 2-0 lead when Rublev's attempted drop shot fell short.
Somdev earned a chance to go 3-0 up by placing a perfect backhand drop shot but could not cash in on as Rublev finally got on board.
The Indian led 3-1 but the 18-year-old Russian upped his game and stroked with a lot of power, taking the next three games. Somdev trailed 3-4 and to make matters worse, he dropped serve in the eighth and Rublev was now serving for the set.
Rublev sent down a cruising forehand winner to earn two set points and sealed it with a powerful overhead smash.
Somdev led 4-1 in the second set and sealed it comfortably before fizzling out in the decider.