Somdev stuns Schuettler, top seed Soderling crashes out

By Anand Philar, IANS,

Chennai, Jan 5 (IANS) Buoyed by popular support, Indian Davis Cupper and local hero Somdev Devvarman swept to a 7-5, 6-2 win against veteran Rainer Schuettler, a former top-10, to enter the second round of the $400,000 ATP Aircel Chennai Open tennis tournament here Tuesday night.

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The 24-year old Devvarman, finalist here last year on debut, provided some cheer on a day when top seed and World No.8 Robin Soderling of Sweden went down 4-6, 5-7 to Robby Ginepri of the US after qualifier Prakash Amritraj was beaten 7-5, 6-1 in the first round by American Michael Russell.

The 33-year-old Schuettler, who last year withdrew from his semi-final contest with Devvarman owing to a wrist injury, did not quite look the part against the Indian star in a decidedly one-sided match that saw the home player winning six games in a row when trailing 3-5 in the first set that he won 7-5 and then go 2-0 in the second to take control.

Devvarman, the highest ranked Indian on the ATP tour at 126, perhaps had an easier outing than he might have expected, considering Schuettler’s credentials as a Grand Slam (Australian Open) finalist in 2003, the year when he was ranked No.6.

Devvarman, a wild card entry, played near-flawless tennis as Schuettler showed his age by way of lack of mobility and power. In the event, the Indian star ran out a surprisingly easy winner after wearing down the German.

Earlier, Ginepri looked like anything but a player ranked 100 as he eliminated Soderling of Sweden in a first round match that was rather flat in terms of quality.

The 25-year-old Soderling, who came here with a win against Roger Federer last week at an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi, was prone to errors tonight in contrast to Ginepri who brought back memories of 2005 season when he reached the semi-finals of the US Open and achieved a career-high ranking of 15.

After taking the first set with a break of serve in the seventh game, Ginepri fell 0-3 behind.

However, Soderling, who served nine aces but committed five double-faults, was unable to capitalise on this start as he dropped serve in the seventh game after hitting out three overhead putaways and that turned tide in Ginepri’s favour.

“Nothing went right for me today. I was fighting for every point from the start. I guess, the breakpoints that I missed and also the overheads in the second set cost me the match. I had problems with the overheads, but overall, I didn’t play well,” said Soderling who thus became the third top seed to go out in the first round of this tournament.

Ginepri was gracious in victory. “Robin came here with his confidence high after his performance in Abu Dhabi. But he came here just two days before while I have been here since Thursday. So, I guess, I was better prepared. He is a big-hitter and I tried to move him around,” Ginepri said.

On the outside court, Amritraj proved unequal to the task and went down rather tamely to 31-year old Russell in just over an hour.

Only in patches did the 26-year old 212nd ranked Amritraj played well enough to stretch his opponent. But overall, Russell lived up to his superior ranking of 83 with a series of blistering returns and solid groundstrokes.

The results (1st round):

Singles – WC-Somdev Devvarman (India) bt Rainer Schuettler (Germany) 7-5, 6-1; Michael Russell (US) bt Q-Prakash Amritraj (India) 6-3, 6-1; Marcel Granollers (Spain) bt Q-James Ward (Britain) 5-7, 6-2, 6-2; Robby Ginepri (US) bt 1-Robin Soderling (Sweden) 6-3, 7-5; Lukas Lacko (Slovakia) bt Q-Yen-Hsun Lu (Taipei) 6-4, 6-3; Robin Haase (Netherlands) bt Q-Tsung-Hua Yang (Taipei) 6-4, 6-3; 5-Dudi Sela (Israel) bt Denis Istomin (Uzbekistan) 6-1, 6-2; Thiemo de Bakker (The Netherlands) bt 8-Rajeev Ram (US) 6-1, 6-1.

Doubles (1st round): 2-Marcel Granollers (Spain) / Santiago Ventura (Spain) bt Michael Kohlmann (Germany) / Rainer Schuettler (Germany) 7-6 (5), 6-3; Somdev Devvarman (India) / Sanam Singh (India) bt 4-Rik de Voest (South Africa) / Scott Lipsky (US)