New Delhi:Somdev Devvarman's sensational run at the Chennai Open met with an anti-climactic end as the Indian lost the fiercely fought singles final to world number 27 and third seed Marin Cilic of Croatia 4-6, 6-7 (3) on Sunday.
Somdev's defeat meant that India's wait for an ATP title continues as no player from the host nation has emerged winner on the ATP Tour since Leander Paes' win at Newport in 1998.
Nevertheless, the wild card entrant's memorable run at the $450,000 event, in which he stunned former world number one Carlos Moya and the king of aces Croatia's Ivo Karlovic, has already given him a superstar status.
Somdev, with his brilliant effort, pocketed valuable 150 ranking points which will help take his current 202 placing near to the 150-mark.
Somdev and Cilic were locked in an intense battle but in the end the Croatian proved a few notches above the Indian as he did not let the local favourite capitalise on any of the first seven break points.
If Cilic handed Somdev a few chances to go up, he had a very strong game to ward off the threat as he compensated the follies with intelligent and piercing ground strokes that were too big to handle for Somdev.
Just when it looked the match slipped out of Somdev's hand when he was trailing 1-4 in the second set after having lost the first set, he brought the match alive by breaking Cilic for the first time in the ninth game of the lively encounter.
The match was stretched to the tie-breaker, in which Cilic prevailed to win his second ATP singles title.
Cilic held his nerves in the tie-breaker, hitting two big aces to take a 4-1 lead and the crowd, cheering and screaming for the local hero, was left disappointed when Cilic notched up a superb win hitting a forehand winner om Somdev's serve.
Once Cilic sealed the first set, Somdev looked out of his elements but managed to engage his opponent in the match and finally clawed his way back riding on a break in the ninth game.
However, Somdev missed a couple of more breakpoints in the 11th game and finally a deserving candidate was crowned champion.
It was a fierce battle right from the word go as the 20-year-old Cilic pushed Somdev to his limits but the Indian responded well which he did consistently in the tournament. He fought fire with fire but the six-feet-six-inch Croat made Somdev work very hard for his points.
The 23-year-old Indian wild card faced early break points - one each in the second and fourth games - but Somdev saved both staving off the threat.
It was then turn of Cilic to hand the opportunity to Somdev to break him following a series of unforced errors by the Croatia's world number 27.
Somdev had four breakpoints in the fifth game and two in the seventh to create a lead but Cilic saved all with booming serves and big forehands to escape unscathed.
The first set went with serves till the ninth game as both the players played engrossing tennis, refusing to concede even an inch.
However, a strategic lapse cost Somdev the first set when he played a drop shot at 30-30 in the 10th game, hoping the Cilic will not get to that but the Croat took long strides and played an easy forehand winner to earn a set point.
Serving under pressure to save the set, Somdev committed the second double fault to surrender the set and lead to his opponent.