Kolkata: India number one Somdev Devvarman got over early hiccups to wrap up a 6-4, 6-4 win over an aggressive Mohamed Safwat of Egypt in the opening round of the State Bank of India USD 50,000 ATP Challenger Tour at BTA Courts here on Monday. However, another Indian Sanam Singh squandered a fabulous 6-1, 3-1 lead to go down to Daniel Cox of Great Britain.
Playing with a wildcard entry, second seed Somdev who is recovering from a career threatening shoulder injury was 0-3 down in the first set as Safwat had two double faults in the fourth game to enable the Indian come back.
Slowly he showed sparks of his on court agility and powerful returns to hold the fifth game before breaking the sixth to make it 3-3 settling the first set breaking the Briton again in the 10th game.
Somdev fired in two aces in the second set as he was all in his elements to win the second set with an identical score in the battle lasting one hour and 25 mintues. "It was tough and not easy as he (Safwat) was playing at his aggressive best. Once I got a feel of the match I felt comfortable," the 100th ranked Indian said.
Despite the initial hiccup, Somdev said he was happy with the way he played. "I feel 100 per cent fit now after my surgery (in early 2012), I'm working hard and trying my best to find ways to improve," Somdev, who had a career best ranking of 62 in mid 2011, added.
Playing his best, Singh won by 6-1 with two breaks of serves and in the second, he was a break up and grasped a 3-1 quick lead. He had a 5-4 lead in the latter half of the set but eventually lost 5-7.
In the decider, Singh was 4-3 on serve only to drop the game, thereby giving Cox a 5-4 lead. In the 10th game Singh was far away from his best as he lost the serve by 0-40 and thereby the match by 6-1 5-7 4-6 in a disappointing exit.
In an upset of the day, unseeded Marco Chiudinelli of Switzerland took one hour and 47 minutes to oust the sixth seeded Illya Marchenko from Ukraine. The first set went on to a tie breaker, where Chiudinelli got lucky as he won the breaker by 7-3.
In the second, Chiudinelli was broken in the second game itself, as Marchenko took a lead of 2-0. Chiudinelli then geared to break back and level the set at 2-2. It went on with hold of serves till 4-4, where Chiudinelli broke Marchenko and then held serve to win the set by 6-4.
In form Yuki Bhambri, who won the ATP Chennai Challenger last week, has been pitted against qualifier Liang-Chi Huang the same Taiwanese opponent who was beaten in the first round in Chennai leg.
Results (Round 1)
Singles: Somdev Devvarman (IND) b Mohamed Safwat (EGY) 6-4, 6-4; Marco Chiudinelli (SUI) b Illya Marchenko (UKR) 7-6 (3), 6-4; Radu Albot (MDA) b Steven Diez (CAN) 6-2, 3-6, 6-4; David Guez (FRA) b Ze Zhang (CHN) 7-6 (1), 6-0; Daniel Cox (GBR) b Sanam Singh (IND) 1-6, 7-5, 6-4.
Doubles: Lucas Pouille (FRA)/ Go Soeda (JPN) b Sanchai Ratiwatana/ Sochat Ratiwatana (THA) 6-4, 6-1; Saketh Myneni/Sanam Singh (IND) b Ramkumar Ramanathan/ Karunuday Singh (IND) 4-6, 10-8.
Qualifying final round: Tsung-Hua Yang (TPE) b Ruan Roelofse (RSA) 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5); Rui Machado (POR) b Tyler Hochwalt (USA) 6-0, 6-3; Liang-Chi Huang (TPE) b Mathias Bourgue (FRA) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3; Ti Chen (TPE) b Joshua Milton (GBR) 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.