Somdev Devvarman fought his heart out in his maiden French Open campaign before crashing out of the clay-court Grand Slam event following a marathon five-set duel with higher-ranked Marco Chiudinelli of Switzerland in the opening round here on Sunday.
Somdev, who became the first Indian to make it to the singles main draw in 13 years, lost 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 3-6 in a gruelling three hours and 38 minute clash at the Roland Garros.
Somdev came back twice from a set down to ignite hopes of a win but a break conceded at the second game of the decider cooked his goose.
The Indian started strongly making his world number 65 opponent toil for every point. Somdev got an early breakpoint and a chance to surge ahead after 1-1 but the Swiss fought back and won the third game of the opening set after exchange of a few deuce points.
Somdev failed to maintain his tempo and was broken in the sixth game as Marco first took a 4-2 lead before pocketing the first set 6-3.
However, the world number 109 Indian, who is known for his gutsy fightbacks, raised his game to several notches to take the second set 6-3.
Somdev, who had beaten the same opponent in Dubai in February, broke the Swiss baseline player — similar as him — in the sixth game of the second set to take it and draw parity.
In the third set, the Swiss big server, broke Somdev in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. The Guwahati-born Indian played some close games later on and was on the verge of breaking his opponent in the next game but failed to convert it and eventually lost the third set 3-6.
But Somdev made yet another comeback in the fourth set, breaking his rival in the second and fourth game and barring a third game slip, held his serve till the end to win it 6-3 and level the match 2-2.
Much was expected from Somdev in the decider but Marco stole the show when he broke the Indian in the second game and held his serve to take a 3-0 lead.
Lagging 3-5, Somdev reeled off a couple of points and was 30-0 at one point in the ninth game of the decider but the Swiss came back strongly to eventually pocket the set and pour cold waters on India’s hopes.