Dubai: Wildcard Somdev Devvarman entered the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships here Tuesday after second seed Juan Martin del Potro was forced to retire mid-way with an injury. Devvarman had won the first set 7-6 (3) when the Argentine decided to walk off the court.
Del Potro had gained a 2-0 lead in the first set before the Indian fought back. Somdev, ranked 78, had won the first set 7-6 (3) in an hour and seven minutes. The Indian traded a break with Del Potro before pushing the match into tie-breaker. He kept hitting it on the backhand of the Argentine, inducing unforced errors from his big-bodied rival. Immediately after this, Del Potro took a medical timeout due to pain in his left wrist.
Soon after, the world no.5's game faded as he appeared to be struggling with a wrist injury. He left the court for a medical time-out before returning to forfeit the match.
Juan Del Potro of Argentina returns the ball to Somdev Devverman of India at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday. Del Potro retired at the end of the first set. Pic/AFP
Devvaram had lost to de Potro in the second round here in 2013 when the latter reached his second straight semifinal.
This is Somdev's first ever win against a top-5 player who is also a Grand Slam champion. Del Potro is the 2009 US Open winner.
Somdev has competed against the legends of the game, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic but has not won against any of them, although he fought well against all these multiple Grand Slam winners. He lost to Nadal in 2011 at Indian Wells Masters in two close sets and the same year he had lost to Federer at this very Dubai event. Last year in his second meeting against the Swiss legend at the Roland Garros, he suffered a tame defeat in the second round. Against Djokovic, he lost in straight sets at the Miami Masaters last year.
Somdev Devvarman in action in the first round match against Juan Del Potro of Argentina at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday. Pic/AFP
Before today's match, his one of the biggest wins were against Croatia's Marin Cilic (world number 15) and Ivo Karlovic (world number 25) in 2009 and against Cyprus' world number 22 Marcos Baghdatis (world number 22) in 2010.
Somdev was well prepared coming into this tournament as he had won the Delhi Open Challenger tournament on Sunday. He had reached the semifinals of the Chennai and Kolkata events in the preceding weeks.
Devvarman next faces either Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands or Malek Jaziri of Tunisia.
On Monday, the India-Pakistan pair of Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi defeated Nikolay Davydenko and Victor Hanescu 6-1, 5-7, 10-8 in the men's doubles opening round.