AirAsia Open ATP Challenger: Somdev, Myneni cruise to next round

It has been quite a while since Somdev Devvarman reached his career high ranking of 63 (current ranking: 178). Though there were signs of a turnaround in fortunes after he won two Challenger singles events early in the year, the Indian seems to be going through a tough time.

Somdev Devvarman beat Maximilian Neuchrist 6-4 6-3   -  K. Murali Kumar

The sparse crowd gathered at the KSLTA stadium here on Tuesday were fully behind the fourth seeded Devvarman as he beat Austrian Maximillian Neuchrist 6-4, 6-3 to get his singles campaign up and running at the $50,000 AirAsia Open ATP Challenger.

It has been quite a while since Somdev Devvarman reached his career high ranking of 63 (current ranking: 178). Though there were signs of a turnaround in fortunes after he won two Challenger singles events early in the year, the Indian seems to be going through a tough time.

He was relieved with the win, considering that he had lost in the early rounds in some of the previous events. “I had been losing quite a number of close matches. A point here, a point there; so it is good to get a win under the belt,” said Devvarman.

“It is not as if I was not putting in the effort. The work was there, only the results weren’t coming in. The game has also changed along the way, and I have had to make some adjustments to my game and improve,” he added.

The work came in handy in Tuesday’s game with his Austrian opponent playing a delightful game of serve and volley. Neuchrist made repeated forays to catch Devvarman out of position and win points. The Indian though went on to break him to make it 4-2 and soon claimed the set 6-4.

It was encore in the second set with Neuchrist’s challenge getting unhinged in the sixth game. But there were nine deuces before Devvarman got lucky. From there the Indian took charge before wrapping up the match in an hour and 33 minutes.

Meanwhile, Sanam Singh made a mockery of his jet lag as he walloped Germain Gigounon of Belgium 6-4, 6-0. Landing in the city in the wee hours of Tuesday after playing the doubles final with Myneni at Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday, Sanam proved too good for the eighth seed Belgian.

Later in the day, Myneni too seemed to be in a similar mood as he cruised to a 6-3, 7-6 win against Serb Nikola Milojevic before hitting a speed bump in the second.

Myneni admitted that he found it difficult to move after the long haul in Bengaluru. “The conditions are totally different here. I tried my best. Ball is coming in quicker. My opponent also raised his game towards the later half. But I am happy that the first hurdle is gone.”

He also appreciated his doubles partner’s efforts. “It is a fantastic result for Sanam. Specially as it will help in gaining crucial points to make the Australian Open qualifiers. I am very happy for him.”

Words of praise were also reserved for Yuki Bhambri and Devvarman. “The top 100 for Yuki is awesome. He has done exceedingly well and totally deserves it. And Devvarman, his rankings of late may not be there, but he is a big factor for us and an inspiration,” added Myneni.

The results:

Singles: First round: Sumit Nagal bt Sidharth Rawat 6-4, 6-3; Somdev Devvarman bt Maximillian Neuchrist (Aut) 6-4, 6-3; Sanam Singh bt Germain Gigounon (Bel) 6-4, 6-0; James Ward (G.Br) bt Lakshit Sood 6-1, 6-1; Saketh Myneni bt Nikola Milojevic (Srb) 6-3, 7-6(4); Alessandro Bega (Ita) bt Maxime Janvier (Fra) 6-2, 6-4; Daniel Nguyen (USA) bt Stephane Robert (Fra) 7-6(2), 3-6, 7-5; Egor Gerasimov (Blr) bt Ramkumar Ramnathan 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-4; Ilya Ivashka bt Vishnu Vardhan 7-6(5), 6-1; Alexander Kudryavtsev (Rus) bt Michal Konecny (Cze) 6-3, 6-3.

Doubles: Pre-quarterfinals: Ti Chen and Dane Propoggia (Aus) bt Arthur de Greef (Bel) & Robert 6-2, 6-2; Bega & Nguyen bt Gigounon & Yannick Mertens (Bel) 6-2, 6-0. Adrian Menendez-Maceiras (Esp) & Gerard Granollers (Esp) bt Ward & Purav Raja 6-4, 6-3; John Paul Fruttero (USA) & N. Vijay Sundar Prashant bt Milojevic & Ramkumar 6-3, 6-2.