Ramkumar troubles Devvarman before pulling up short with cramps
It may be unwise to anticipate two upsets so close in succession. But, going by what R. Ramkumar did for most of the match, it did seem like he would run top seed Somdev Devvarman the distance if not actually ground him like he did at the Aircel Chennai Open.
The 19-year-old served big, hit lethal forehands, hurried his opponent and ran him end to end.
The sparse crowd waited expectantly for a three-setter until Ramkumar, trailing by a set, started cramping while serving at 4-5, 40-30, and decided to throw in the towel, sending Devvarman into the second round of the Shriram Capital-P.L. Reddy Memorial ATP Challenger here on Tuesday.
Devvarman might have not liked the manner of his victory, but was glad enough to take it.
“I am happy to get through,” Devvarman said. “Ramkumar is a tricky guy. He is a very intelligent player. He served really well and mixed it up and made it tough. Though I was not winning the long rallies initially, I felt I would get there eventually.”
Through the match it was a subdued Devvarman on display. He struggled to hold serve in the first set, falling behind in most of the games.
Ramkumar was the aggressor through out.
Devvarman did not help himself by staying well back intent on just keeping the ball in play rather than going for winners.
After missing six set points when Ramkumar was serving at 4-5, he managed a break in the 12th game to take the set 7-5.
The second set saw an even more aggressive Ramkumar run up a 4-2 lead. Devvarman’s ground-strokes seemed to just sit up for the easy put-away. He was also hitting pretty short; the 19-year-old executed run-around forehands at will.
“He needs to be more aggressive,” said Anand Amritraj, India’s Davis Cup captain, after sitting through the match. “He made his opponent in Indore look very good as well.”
In all, five Indians made it to the second round. Yuki Bhambri, Sanam Singh, Saketh Myneni and Sriram Balaji the other victors.
In the last match of the day, Sriram Balaji, partnering Blaz Rola of Slovakia, upset the doubles top seeds, the Ratiwatana twins, Sanchai and Sonchat, 5-7, 7-5, 10-6.
First round: Singles: Somdev Devvarman bt R. Ramkumar 7-5, 5-4 retired; Michael Venus (Nzl) bt Jeevan Neduchezhiyan 7-6(3), 6-7(1), 6-1; Steven Diez (Can) bt Radu Albot (Mda) 6-1, 3-6, 6-4; Illya Marchenko (Ukr) bt Daniel Munoz-de la Nava (Esp) 7-5, 7-5; Lucas Pouille (Fra) bt Ti Chen (Tpe) 6-3, 6-3; Gerard Granollers (Esp) bt Victor Baluda (Rus) bt 6-3, 6-2; Yuki Bhambri bt Liang-Chi Huang (Tpe) 6-2, 6-4; Thomas Fabbiano (Ita) bt Theodorous Angelinos (Gre) 6-3, 6-0; Saketh Myneni bt Mohamed Safwat (Egy) 6-4, 6-2; Alexander Kudryavtsev (Rus) bt Iliya Bozoljac (Srb) 6-1, 6-2; Blaz Rola (Slo) bt Agustin Velotti (Arg) 7-5, 7-6(5); Sanam Singh bt David Guez (Fra) 6-4, 7-5; Sriram Balaji bt Prajnesh Gunneswaran 6-3, 6-3; Rui Machado (Por) bt Tsung-Hua Yang (Tpe) 3-6, 6-4, 6-3; Evgeny Donskoy (Rus) bt Axel Michon (Fra) 6-2, 6-3.
Doubles: Ruben Gonzales (Phi) & Artem Sitak (Nzl) bt David Guez (Fra) & Lucus Pouille (Fra) 6-2, 6-0; Sriram Balaji & Blaz Rola (Slo) bt Sanchai Ratiwatana & Sonchat Ratiwatana (Tha) 5-7, 7-5, 10-6.