An inconsistent Somdev Devvarman failed to consolidate on a solid start and lost 4-6, 3-6, 4-6 to veteran Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia in the men's singles first round at the French Open tennis here Tuesday.
Somdev, who has had a decent run on the Tour this year, looked good to take the Croat a fair distance after the way he started. After an early break all he needed was to hold his serve to take the first set. He lost his way and once Ljubcic snatched the first set, the Indian could not gather himself for a fight.
The start for the Indian was too good. He played fluently to go 4-2 up in the first set and was 40-15 on his serve in the eighth game, but dropped it and soon the set as the 32-year-old Croat won four games on the trot. The Indian, thereafter, was good only in patches and bowed out after battling it out for two hours.
The 26-year-old Indian, who made only his second appearance at Roland Garros, is yet to win a match here. He, however, is in contention in the doubles where he is partnering Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei. They open against Spaniards Marcel Granollers and Feliciano Lopez.
Somdev dictated the rallies in the first few games of the match, producing some stunning groundstrokes from the backcourt off the backhand. So solid was he from the basline that he forced Ljubicic to charge the net to cut off the rallies.
It was Somdev's forhand that let him down when he was serving 40-15 in the eighth game. Ljubicic, semifinalist here in 2006, swiftly grabbed the opportunity and breaking the Indian a second time in the tenth game, he went a set up.
From then on, Ljubicic's serve was spotless, he didn't commit a single double fault in the entire match and didn't drop his serve in the remaining two sets. It took him just 29 minutes to pocket the second set, breaking Somdev in the eighth game.
In the decider, the Indian did well to hang on in the marathon first game that went for six deuces, but a forehand error undid all his hard work of 14 minutes.
A break up, Ljubcic only stepped on the gas and the hapless Indian simply went through the motions.
The Croat now plays the winner of the match between 24th seed Sam Querrey of the US and Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber.