Somdev Goes Down Fighting To Nadal




Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

After giving his idol Rafael Nadal a good run for his money in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas ATP Masters here, Somdev Devvarman lost 7-5, 6-4 after a near 2-hour battle on Wednesday.

The Spaniard got off to a rough start by dropping his serve in the opening game and, though he quickly recovered the break, was visibly frustrated with an inexplicable breakdown in his normally reliable forehand.

Nadal depended on solid serving to stay ahead on the scoreboard despite some difficult moments against a player seemingly capable of tracking down all of the Spaniard’s heaviest ground strokes.

Finally, with Devvarman serving at 5-6 in the first set, the world No. 1 got another break to clinch the set and let out a big shout of celebration and relief.

The second set also was closely contested and Devvarman thrilled the crowd with a couple of defense-to-offense sequences punctuated by down-the-line forehand winners.

It appeared briefly that the match might be headed for a third set, but Nadal escaped a 4-4, 0-30 hole with some solid serves and ground strokes and then finished off the match in one hour and 54 minutes by breaking Devvarman’s serve at love.

Devvarman, who eliminated 22nd seed Marcos Baghdatis in the second round, had not dropped a set in his previous three matches as he registered his first victories at a Masters 1000 tournament.

Somdev’s determination to keep up with Nadal was inspiring to watch as the US-based Indian played intelligently, drawing from his celebrated opponent’s pace and power and placing the ball deep, making the Spaniard work for every point. Nadal upped the level in the 12th and 10th games of the first and second sets to close the argument.

The Indian’s effort in the Masters tournament has won him $40,160 in prize money and 102 ranking points which should see him climb 12 to 15 slots on the ATP chart when the new order is released on Monday.

Next up for Nadal in Thursday’s quarterfinal night match will be a completely different type of opponent, towering Croatian Ivo Karlovic, who lacks the court coverage of Devvarman but boasts arguably the best serve in the world.

Earlier in the day, resurgent Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro, who is quickly finding his form after an injury-marred 2010, will square off against Spain’s Tommy Robredo in another quarterfinal.

The winner will take on either Nadal or Karlovic in Saturday’s semifinals.

The other two quarterfinals, to be played on Friday, will pit red-hot Serbian Novak Djokovic against France’s Richard Gasquet and world No. 2 Roger Federer of Switzerland against countryman Stanislas Wawrinka.

In the men’s doubles, the Indo-Pak Express of Rohan Bopanna and Aisam ul-haq Qureshi moved into the semifinals with a 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) win over Serbia’s Viktor Toicki and Novak Djokovic. In the last four, Bopanna and Qureshi will play Belgium’s Xavier Malisse and Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov.

The BNP Paribas Open is one of nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, which rank just below the four Grand Slam tournaments and the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in terms of ranking points and prestige.

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Nupoor Bansal

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Hey, I'm Nupoor Bansal, 20, currently pursuing Journalism from DU. I have always been immensely interested in both playing and watching sports. Like most other cricket fanatics Sachin Tendulkar is THE God for me. Badminton, Tennis and Football are the other sports that interest me.

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