With the encouragement of hundreds of delirious supporters, Indian wildcard Somdev Devvarman took on Croatian Marin Cilic in the finals of the Chennai Open. Somdev, a 23 year-old former NCAA champion ranked 202, proved quite a handful for the younger number 3 seed. Nevertheless, Cilic cooled off his opponent to prevail in straight sets 6-4, 7-6.
Ripping a forehand crosscourt for winner, Cilic finished an unadventurous game to open the match. Conversely, with a backhand crosscourt error, Somdev faced his first break point. However, with steeliness in the long rallies and deep penetrating groundstrokes, Devvarman conquered the wave. Then, Somdev turned the tables on Marin, connecting on a forehand pass and backhand up the line winners for triple break point. With his overpowering serve, the Croatian bullied his way out of trouble for 3-2. But, Cilic went down again double break point in his next service game when Devvarman thrusted one of his rocket like serves back to force an error from him. Yet, with crosscourt winners on the forehand and backhand, Marin once more pulled out the game for 4-3. With Devvarman serving at 4-5, the Indian picked the most inauspicious moment to bring out the dropshot. Using his long strides, Cilic reached the ball and put it away for a forehand winner. Shortly after, Devvarman terminated the set with a double fault.
After holding serve in the second set, through the generosity of his opponent, who committed three unforced errors, Cilic arrived at triple break point. With a stinging down the line forehand winner, Marin converted the break for 2-0. After an easy service game, Devvarman got his first chance to get the break back when Cilic’s forehand crosscourt missed. As before, with a few aces, Cilic managed to take a 4-1 lead. Serving for the championship at 5-3, Cilic started by making two backhand errors. Then, when the ball clipped the tape, Cilic misfired on the forehand leading to a breakpoint for Devvarman. When the tall Croatian did not dig out a forehand volley, the crowd exhaled; their hometown hero still had a chance. After holding serve, Somdev got into position to take the outright lead with double break points. Still, Cilic didn’t blink, he used his big forehand and serve to get ahead 6-5. The set went to a tiebreak. Early on, with a backhand error from Devvarman, Cilic had a minibreak and that was all the Croatian needed to close out the set and claim his second ATP title.
Somdev was a topnotch performer all week; beating former French Open champion Carlos Moya and serving giant Ivo Karlovic. Not only was this Devvarman’s first ATP final, he became the first Indian to play in the Chennai Open final.