Chennai: Qualifier Prakash Amritraj displayed tremendous fighting power as he came back from one set down to beat Rufin Guillaume of France and advance to the second round of the men's singles in the Aircel Chennai Open tennis ATP event here tonight.
Amritraj fought dehydration and relied on variation in his tactics as he sent his opponent, ranked 90th in the world, packing with a 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-2 win in a 143-minute first round match.
Amritraj, ranked 515 in the world, qualified for the main round after winning three tough qualifying matches. He now plays eighth seed Go Soeda of Japan in the second round.
Amritraj started off well with a break in the very first game though he was broken back in the sixth game. Then Rufin matched Amritraj, who was rooted to baseline, by serving well and taking the first set to the tie-break.
The Indian led 3-1 in the tie-break but under pressure he lost steam and committed unforced errors and was thus forced to concede the first set.
In the second set, it was a brilliant display by Amritraj who played flawless tennis. After breaking Rufin in the sixth game, Amritraj was constantly attended by the physio on his right forehand. However, Amritraj served well and came up to play upfront on few occasions to finish the rallies.
In the deciding set, Amritraj grew in confidence and broke Rufin, who double faulted twice in the second game.
From then on, Amritraj upped his game to many notches and served aces in all his remaining games before winning the match.
Somdev breezes past his Czech opponent in only 69 minutes
Somdev Devvarman started his Aircel Chennai Open campaign in style as he cruised past higher-ranked Czech opponent Jan Hajek in straight sets 6-3 6-3 in only 69 minutes.
Somdev, who has gone through a rough patch after returning from injury as his ATP ranking has slipped to 663 from top-100 rank a couple of years back.
On paper, Somdev was no match for his 106th ranked Czech opponent but India's top singles player proved his fitness which is a positive sign ahead of country's Davis Cup tie against South Korea in Delhi.
Once he broke Hajek in the very first game of the match, he grew in confidence and then in his first service game fired three aces to rattle his opponent.
Steadily, he went about his task and upped the ante and got better with each service game. He broke Hajek in the ninth game for the lead.
Devvarman seemed to have prepared well to take on the load and equipped with booming forehand drives. The Indian, who served seven aces in all, saved two of three break points in each set.
"It's my first match of the year and it feels great to have won it. It is always a pleasure playing in Chennai, the crowd support helped me immensely," Somdev said after the match.
"Coming back from injury after so many months, to win my first match of the season is a wonderful feeling. The next match is going to be tough since I'm playing a seeded player, but I'm feeling good and will go out there and do my best."
Devvarman plays world No 6 and top seed Tomas Berdych in the next round and it will take a Herculean effort from the Indian to win that encounter.
In three other first round matches, Matthias Bachinger (ranked 123) of Germany brought about the first major upset of the tournament when he beat seventh seeded Lu Yen-Hsun of Chinese Taipei 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in 128 minutes.
In other results, Cedric Marcel Stebe from Germany, ranked 171, defeated Ignor Sijsling of Netherlands 6-4, 6-4 in 84 minutes. Fifth seeded Benoit Paire of France beat Flavio Cipolla of Italy 6-3, 6-4.
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