Chennai: Somdev Devvarman raised hopes of a turnaround before being knocked out of the Chennai Open as the struggling Indian tennis star lost his first round match to Russian wild card Andrey Rublev, here on Tuesday.
Somdev, ranked 177th, lost 3-6 6-3 3-6 to his 18-year old opponent, whose father is a boxer and mother a tennis coach.
Somdev has not won a main draw singles match on ATP Tour since September 2014 when he had beaten China's Xin Gao at Shenzen Open. He had a chance to change that stat as he led 3-1 in the opening set but lost five games on the trot to hand his rival a one-set lead.
Somdev won the second, stretching it to a decider but dropped serve in the sixth game and could never comeback. Rublev, to his credit, overpowered Somdev with his strokes, especially his forehand which he used smartly to play majority of his shots to a weak backhand of Somdev.
Somdev saved two break points in his first service game but a forehand error after a long rally put him down by another. He saved that too with a winner, set up by opening up the court and held for a 2-0 lead when Rublev's attempted drop shot fell short.
Somdev earned a chance to go 3-0 up by placing a perfect backhand drop shot but could not cash in on as Rublev finally got on board. The Indian led 3-1 but the 18-year-old Russian upped his game and stroked with a lot of power, taking the next three games.
Somdev trailed 3-4 and to make matters worse, he dropped serve in the eighth and Rublev was now serving for the set. Rublev sent down a cruising forehand winner to earn two set points and sealed it with a powerful overhead smash. Somdev led 4-1 in the second set and sealed it comfortably but fizzled out in the decider.
It leaves Ramkumar Ramanathan as the only Indian left in the singles draw. The local lad is up against world number 98 Daniel Gimeno-Traver from Spain.