Somdev Devvarman creates home joy in Chennai Open Qualifying
Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
There were casualties galore at the Chennai Open qualifying draw after five out of the six highest seed seeds failed to secure a place in the main draw.
Headlining the draw was Swedish youngster Elias Ymer. The world No.136 has been labelled as the most promising player in Swedish tennis, however, he has endured a mixed season last year. Besides clinching his first Challenger title in Italy, he lost in the first round at a tournament 10 times during 2015. Putting 2015 behind him, Ymer experienced a disappointing start to the new year after suffering a 7-5, 6-2, loss to Ante Pavic.
Pavic was able to continue his winning start to the year after defeating India’s Sriram Balaji in two tiebreak sets to reach the main draw. The successful qualifying campaign is a boost to Pavic’s confidence after dealing with the effects of mononucleosis over the past year. At his lowest Pavic spent one-and-a-half months housebound as he tried to recover from the illness.
The highest ranked player to qualify for the main draw was Italian third seed Thomas Fabbiano. The world No.157 enjoyed a duo of straightforward wins to reach his first main draw on the ATP Tour since the Croatia Open last July. He won opening match after Russia’s Mikhail Elgin retired during the second set. Then in his following match, he faced 5th seed Saketh Myneni. Myneni is ranked 170th in the world and won one Challenger title last year in Ho Chi Minh City. The Indian was no match for Fabbiano as the Italian took the 6-4, 6-2 win after an hour and 16 minutes.
The sole success for the home crowd occurred when Somdev Devvarman stunned British second seed James Ward 2-6, 7-5, 6-4. Both men reached the second round after producing straight sets wins over a duo of Indian players. Ward was on course to the victory after leading 6-2, 3-1, before he came unstuck at the hands of the Indian world No.177. Towards the end of the second set, Devvarman broke Ward for a chance to serve for the set. The task was easy for him as he opened up a 40-0 lead before converting his second set point to force the match into a decider. The momentum for the Indian continued into the final set as he claimed four consecutive games on his way to reaching the main draw.
completing the four qualifiers is Slovakia’s Jozef Kovalík. Last year the 23-year-old failed to win a title on the challenger tour with his best result being runner-up at the Mestre Challenger in Italy. Kovalik opened up his Chennai mission with a 6-3, 6-0, win over little-known Indian player Prajnesh Gunneswaran. Following his easy opening win, he experienced a tougher encounter against Russian fourth seed Alexander Kudryavtsev. After dropping the first set, Kovalik battled back to win 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-1, to reach his first main draw on the ATP World Tour.
Main Draw matches for the qualifiers
Kovalik and Fabbiano will face off and one of them will earn their first ever ATP main draw win, Devvarman faces young wild card Andrey Rublev and Pavic will be opposite accomplished veteran Nicolas Almagro in a tough contest.