Pune: Somdev Devvarman, who is striving hard to arrest his slide, served past Maxime Janvier to enter the second round of the KPIT-MSLTA Pune Challenger, but a visibly tired Saketh Myneni brought curtains to his 2015 season with a first-round defeat here yesterday.
Sixth seed Somdev, whose ranking has plummeted to 181, overcame a fighting French rival 6-4 7-5 in one hour and 43 minutes in the opening round of the USD 50,000 event at Balewadi Sports Complex. Fifth seed Myneni, who has made good strides in the recent past, was fighting himself more than his rival, Belarusian Ilya Ivashka, and eventually lost 7-5 4-6 2-6 in his first round that lasted two hours and three minutes.
The vigours of the Tour, where Myneni has played 25 matches (14 singles and 11 doubles) in the last three tournaments in October only, finally took its toll as his body gave up. He was trying to make it a fight but his body did not support him and it affected him mentally too as he struggled to cope with a few umpire calls, which he thought were wrong.
He even yelled at umpire saying, "it's a disgrace that you are an umpire", after one such call. After being broken in the third game, Myneni broke Ivashka in the eighth at love to make it 4-4 and again in the 12th to take first set. He was lacking in energy, if not will. Whenever he landed the returns near the baseline across the court it helped him as his opponent struggled to put the ball cross the net.
His serve was a big saviour which was crucial in him winning the first set. Leaving out the third game, in which he was broken, he conceded only two points on his serve in other four service games. But a break of serve in the second set, in seventh game, turned the tide in Ivashka's favour and Myneni only played a catch up game after that.
Most of the times he was hitting it short which Ivashka easily dispatched by setting up volley winners. "I was trying my best. I had some shoulder and groin issue. Under the situation, I played well. I am done for the year. I have a League (CTL) after and I want to come back healthy."
Asked about his outburst, Myneni said," It's part of the game. Sometimes it goes against you and sometimes it works for you." Somdev, who has improved his serve tremendously, found a hard-hitting opponent across the net but he had the game to overcome the challenge. Janvier was striking the ball really hard but had no
control over his shots, specially in the opening set.
He sprayed flashy strokes all over the court but struggled to put them inside the lines, giving lot of free points to Somdev. The Indian broke the French rival in the third game to nose ahead and serve out the set in the 10th without any fuss. There was better fight in the second as Janvier managed to curtail his error. He saved two breakpoints in the third and broke Somdev in the sixth to create a little opening.
But for next three games there was break of serve and the match was on even keel when Somdev held his serve in the 10th. A never-ending 11th game in which the two players played seven deuce points and Janvier saved three break points before being broken, sealed it for Somdev. A dogged Somdev kept piling up pressure with his amazing retrieving ability and converted the fourth point when Janvier smashed a forehand volley to net.
Somdev served out the match at love to set up the next match with compatriot N Vijay Sunder Prashant, who beat Belgium's Arthur De Greef 6-4 6-4. Sanam Singh got the better of Italian Alessandro Bega 6-4 6-1 to set up a second round clash with eighth seed Russian Alexander Kudryatsev.
Meanwhile, former national champions and qualifier Ranjeet Virali Murugesan lost 2-6 6-4 0-6 to fourth seed Briton James Ward and local boy Aryan Goveas gave a good account of himself before losing 7-6 (1) 2-6 3-6 against Germain Gigounon of Belgium.