Backed by strong home crowd, Prakash Amritraj outlasted G Rufin of France 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-3 in the first round of the Aircel Chennai Open here on Tuesday. Prakash, who played well in the qualifying rounds, continued in the same vein to clinch the issue after two hours and 23 minutes.
Rufin (ranked 92 in the world) learnt the hard lesson that rankings is not a true indicator as he found Prakash a hard nut to crack. Prakash got off to a flying start breaking Rufin in the first game of the first set. In the next game, Prakash was down 0-30 after committing a double fault. However, the Indian got out of the hole with excellent groundstrokes to take a 2-0 lead. Although he was broken by Rufin in the sixth game, Prakash held his serve in the remaining games to take the set into a tie-break. In the tiebreaker, Prakash jumped to a 3-0 lead. But poor returns and placements cost him the set. Watched by his father Vijay Amritraj, Prakash fought back to pocket the second set. He broke Rufin in the sixth and eighth games to make it one-set all.
In the decider, Prakash broke Rufin in the second game to gain ascendancy. He held on to his break to seal victory. It was a good show by a player ranked 549th in the world.
Somdev Devvarman back in form is good news for hundreds of tennis fans who throng the stadium. The 2009 finalist trounced Jan Hajek (Czech Republic) 6-3, 6-3 in an absorbing match.
The 663rd-ranked player was in his element from the word go. Adequate serve, backed by excellent court movement, not to forget the pulsating groudstrokes helped the Indian to cross the first hurdle. Somdev started with a bang breaking Hajek in the first game. He broke again in the ninth game to take the set in 29 minutes. Hajek showed signs of coming back into the match, breaking Somdev in the third game of the second set. However, Somdev broke back in the next game to make it 2-2.
Somdev turned the match on its head by breaking Hajek in the sixth game. He executed a perfect lob en route to earning a crucial break much to the delight of the crowd. The Indian sealed victory in the ninth game.
Thai brothers Sanchai Ratiwana and Sonchat Ratiwana dashed the hopes of defending champion Leander Paes and Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France, wininning 7-6 (7), 6-1 to enter the quarterfinals.