There was a lot to cheer for the reasonably good crowd gathered here as two Indians – Somdev Devvarman and Prakash Amritraj – advanced to the singles second round of the Aircel Chennai Open.
The only upset on Tuesday was in a first round match between unseeded German Matthias Bachinger and Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu. The seventh seed. Bachinger won 6-4 3-6 6-4.
Wildcard Devvarman was flamboyant and in total control while inflicting a 6-3 6-3 defeat on Czech Republic’s Jan Hajek, but qualifier Amritraj lost the first set before coming up with a better show and clinching the next two.
Chennai is obviously a happy hunting ground for Amritraj. Coming back to the circuit after a two-year break, Amritraj not only qualified for the main draw here, but also made it to the second round with a 6-7 (4) 6-2 6-3 victory over Frenchman Guillaume Rufin.
Amritraj had qualified for the main draw the last time he played in the Chennai Open nearly three years ago. He now takes on Japan’s eighth-seeded player Go Soeda next.
It was a rather close first set as both players struggled to take control. Having broken his opponent’s serve in the first game, Amritraj went 3-1 up. Rufin hit back and won three games in a row to level things at 4-4. The topsy-turvy nature of the game continued and the set was forced into the tie-breaker. Again, Amritraj took a slender 3-0 lead but was not able to hold on to it, thus losing the first set.
However, it was a different story in the second and third sets. With Amritraj calling the shots, Rufin was made to run around and it did not take too much effort for the Indian to wrap up the match.
Later, Devvarman, who will take on Tomas Berdych in the next round, emerged as the true entertainer. He repeatedly left his rival stunned with deftly-placed returns. For Devvarman, ranked 661 in the world as compared to 105 of his rival, getting caught off guard was a rarity as he blasted winners all over the court and ensured that a second Indian was in the second round.
Results: Singles: Round 1: Matthias Bachinger (Ger) bt 7-Yen-Hsun Lu (Tpe) 6-4 3-6 6-4; Prakash Amritraj (Ind) bt Guillaume Rufin (Fra) 6-7 (4) 6-2 6-3; 5-Benoit Paire (Fra) bt Flavio Cippola (Ita) 6-3 6-4; Somdev Devvarman (Ind) bt Jan Hajek (Cze) 6-3 6-3