Chennai: India's top singles player Somdev Devvarman choked after initially showing promise as he lost to sixth seed Yen Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei in straight sets to crash out of the ATP Chennai Open tennis tournament in the first round here yesterday.
An error-prone Somdev, a wild card entrant, lost 3-6, 4-6 in 80 minutes to Lu, ranked 38th in the world. In his first round match before a supportive crowd at the centre court, Somdev failed to raise his game in his 11th appearance in the ATP event. The 29-year-old top Indian on the ATP World Tour is making his sixth main draw appearance (5-5 record).
In his debut in 2009, he reached the final. Since then, he has not won back-to-back matches, falling in the second round in 2010 and 2013 and in the first round in 2011 and last year. It was though a well earned win for Lu as Somdev wilted under pressure and surrendered the initiative after showing glimpses of counter attacking tennis.
The Indian star made mistakes and failed to finish the rallies after holding advantage. In the first set, Somdev was struck to baseline play most of the time by Lu, the top Chinese Taipei player and the Indian came up short in dealing with the situation.
In the second set, Somdev did enjoy some superiority and played some brilliant volleys and cross-court returns but he lacked consistency. Lu grabbed the initiative to break Somdev and led 3-1. The Indian managed to hold his serve and then broke back Lu to
neutralize the score to 3-3.
However, Lu waited for his chances and managed to take 5-4 lead before holding his serve to win the set and the match. Earlier, two other Indians also bowed of the tournament with Ramkumar Ramanathan and Vijay Sundar Prashanth losing their first round matches.
Ramkumar Ramanathan paid the price of not containing his unforced errors as he made a first round exit while Prashanth also bowed out after a crushing defeat. Ramkumar, who had happy memories of upsetting Somdev in the previous edition at this venue, suffered a 3-6 3-6 defeat in the first round at the hands of World No. 87 Japanese Tatsuma Ito.
Prasanth was no match to Jiri Vesely of Czech Republic, copping a 2-6 1-6 bashing in 67 minutes. Playing his aggressive brand of game but without control, Ramkumar hit more winners than his seasoned rival but could not contain unforced errors. The 20-year-old Ramkumar saved a match point in the ninth game of the second set but failed to pick a backhand from Ito to make an exit.
In another first round match, qualifier Aljas Bedene of Slovenia continued with his momentum as he upset world number 94 Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 7-6(7) 6-3 in 97 minutes. In the pre-quarterfinals, Bedene will take on second seed Feliciano Lopez of Spain. Earlier in the evening, wild card and 18 year-old Elias Ymer shocked world number 84 Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands 6-4 4-6 6-3 to make it to the second round.
The Swedish tennis player of Ethiopian descent needed one hour and 46 minutes to oust his Dutch opponent. Ymer, who attained his career high ranking of World No. 225 last month, was a replacement to former champion Janko Tipservic of Serbia. The young Swedish player made his ATP main draw singles debut at the 2013 Swedish Open where he lost in the first round to Grigor Dimitrov.
Ymer was given a wildcard at the 2014 Swedish Open and defeated Mikhail Kukushkin in the first round before falling to Joao Sousa in the second round. He has won 5 ITF Futures Singles titles in 2014. Ymer, who is coached by Magnus Norman and Mikael Tillstrom, broke Igor in the third game but the latter broke him back in the seventh.
However, Ymer kept fighting hard and closed the first in his favour. The second set was more intense, mostly played from the
baseline. The rivals traded breaks in the third and fourth games. Ymer suffered lapse in concentration and was broken in the ninth and then Igor held his serve in the 10th to draw parity.
The decider was also going on serves but Ymer came up with excellent and all round display in the vital sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. It was easy for mer then to close the contest in his favour. In a doubles match at the centre court Stanislas Wawrinka, winner of the doubles title in 2013 here, playing with Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut came from behind to upset third seeds Johan Brunstrom (Sweden) and Nicholas Monroe (USA) 5-7 6-3 10-8 in 83 minutes.
In another singles first round match at the outside court, Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania beat a fighting Italian qualifier Luca Vanni 6-1, 2-6, 7-5 in 108 minutes. In a side court encounter, Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain (ranked 51) had an easy time beating Alejandro Gonzalez of Colombia, ranked 92, 6-1, 6-3 in just an hour in their first meeting on ATP tour, while fifth seeded Guillermo Garcia Lopez of Spain, ranked 36, had an easy win over qualifier Evgeny Donskoy of Russia 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-3 in 115 minutes.
The rivals traded early breaks but more experienced Pablo had gained two breaks in the fourth and sixth to win the first set and then grew in confidence to dispose of the Colombian with third and ninth game breaks for the set and the match. In the second round matches, Ricardo plays Jiri Vasely, Lu takes on Pablo, while Guillermo crosses swords with Ito Tatsuma. Qualifier Aljaz Bedene takes on second seeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.