New York: India’s Somdev Dev Varman battled his way through rain interruptions to notch up a hard-fought victory over Lukas Lacko of Slovakia in a gruelling opening-round match of the men’s singles competition at the US Open tennis here.
The 28-year-old rallied from a set down, to win the next two when rain interrupted the match. The Indian, however, returned to complete the job as he emerged 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 victories in the match which lasted three hours and 11 minutes at Flushing Meadows on Wednesday night.
The world No. 114 Indian will next take on Italian Andrea Seppi, ranked 20th, in the second round. Seppi beat Belgian veteran Xavier Malisse 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 in another men’s singles match.
Facing Lukas for the first time, Somdev tried to curb unforced errors and rode on his better net play and breakpoint conversion rate to surpass the world No. 84 Slovak.
Somdev won 93 per cent of the net points compared to Lukas’s 63 per cent, and also converted eight of the 12 break points that came his way. He committed just 36 unforced errors, while the Slovak made 73.
Somdev was almost out of action for more than a year, suffering from a shoulder injury. “I’m very happy with the way I played. It was an incredibly tough match,” Somdev said after the match.
“I played a few great scramble points there in the fifth set at 4-4. I’m happy with that last bit of effort out there.” Somdev, who made his way through three qualifying matches, said he had better idea about the court as he was “match sharp”.
“Less time on the court is better but you do what you can to take advantage of what you have,” Devvarman said.
“I’m familiar with the speed of the courts. I’ve played a lot of matches. I’m match sharp. I hope I can take advantage of that in the next match. The only way I can improve is to fight through every match and I feel like I’ve done that,” he added.
However, the opening round match did turn out to be a frustrating affair for Somdev as it was stretched to an eight-hour affair following more than four hours of rain interruption.
“Bummer for me, momentum switch,” he said. “But you have to pull your pants up and deal with it. Just the nature of the beast. I got two quarters of a meal at different times,” said Somdev who was forced to wait in the locker room during the rain.
“You just take a shower, eat and try to relax. You are in there with a bunch of your friends, playing games and the time passes pretty quickly. Stopping and starting, it was a little unlucky to stop there,” he said.
“You can’t control the weather. It changed the momentum. He came out and played well, changed his tactics. He played a great fourth and fifth set.”
Talking about the unforced errors which both of them committed in the match, Somdev said: “When you are playing in the fifth set, you play with a lot of adrenaline at that point. I know both of us were dying at the end.
“I was pretty antsy and he was too. The nervous energy affected the both of us. We were just trying to do our best,” he said.