Second-seeded Somdev Devvarman weathered a fidgety start before settling into his rhythm to defeat unseeded Egyptian Mohamed Safwat in the first round of the State Bank of India $50,000 ATP Challenger here on Monday.

Devvarman’s younger Indian Davis Cup teammate Sanam Singh, in contrast, made a fine start before surrendering the advantage to unseeded Daniel Cox of Great Britain.

Bad start

Devvarman, the highest-ranked Indian on the professional circuit, made some uncharacteristic errors to go 3-0 down. However, in a fine display of tact and temperament, he regained command just when things looked to be getting out of his grasp.

The Indian broke back in the fourth game and neutralised the Egyptian’s advantage with another break of serve in the sixth game for a 3-3 score. Having cut down on the errors in his service games, Devvarman punched a hole in Safwat’s defence once again in the 10th game to take the first set 6-4.

Safwat gained the first break of serve once again — in the fifth game of the second set — only to see Devvarman breaking back in the next.

The Indian, who served three aces in the second set, took advantage of the Egyptian’s inconsistent serve and broke once again in the 10th game to make it 6-4 and ensured his passage into the next round.

“Going down two breaks initially was difficult, but getting two quick breaks helped my confidence,” Devvarman said, looking back at the hesitant start and the subsequent recovery in the first set. “I am looking to be more professional on court and trying to find ways to improve,” the Indian said.

Losing his way

Sanam Singh, who breezed past unseeded Cox in the first set 6-1, failed to sustain the tempo in the subsequent sets. Sanam led the second set 3-1 with an early break, but Cox clawed back into the game breaking the Indian back in the sixth to make it 3-3. There was a series of breaks thereafter where Sanam fell behind by the odd one in five and lost the set (7-5).

Sanam tried to recover in the decider where he earned a break in the third game. But the Briton never allowed the Indian to hold on to the advantage and neutralised it immediately. Cox broke serve again in the 10th game to win the set 6-4 and the match, ending a battle of one hour 58 minutes.

In another notable first round match, Swiss Davis Cupper Marco Chiudinelli sent sixth-seeded Illya Marchenko of Ukraine packing in straight sets.

The scores:

Singles (first round): Daniel Cox (GBr) bt Sanam Singh 1-6, 7-5, 6-4; David Guez (Fra) bt Ze Zhang (Chn) 7-6(1), 6-0; Marco Chiudinelli (Sui) bt Illya Marchenko (Ukr) 7-6(3), 6-4; Radu Albot (Mda) bt Steven Diez (Can) 6-2, 3-6, 6-4; Somdev Devvarman bt Mohamed Safwat (Egy) 6-4, 6-4.

Doubles (first round): Lucas Pouille (Fra) & Go Soeda (Jpn) bt Sanchai Ratiwatana & Sonchat Ratiwatana (Tha) 6-4, 6-1; Saketh Myneni & Sanam Singh bt Ramkumar Ramanathan & Karunuday Singh 6-2, 4-6, 10-8.

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