Chennai, Jan 3: World No.6 Tomas Berdych underlined his class and status by outclassing the last Indian hope in singles, Somdev Devvarman 6-3, 6-1, in just 65 minutes en route to the quarter-finals of the Aircel ATP Chennai Open tennis tournament here Thursday.
It was a master class from 27-year-old Berdych and the difference in ranking was far too obvious as Devvarman, at 664, had no answer to the blistering pace of the Czech star, the top seed, who next meets Spain’s Roberto Bautista-Agut, who put out German Matthias Bachinger 7-6 (4), 6-3 in 100 minutes.
Meanwhile, third seeded Croatian Marin Cilic looked rather rusty at the outset as he needed three sets to beat a dogged Russian Sergiy Stakhovky before making it to the round of eight, where he faces fifth seeded Frenchman Benoit Paire who blasted past Israel’s Dudi Sela 6-3, 6-1.
The first meeting between Berdych and Devvarman turned out to be rather one-sided with the Czech ace, who had a fairly successful 2012 season with two titles and 14 quarter-final or better appearances, dominating from the outset.
The 27-year old Indian, who enjoyed a career-best ranking of 62 in mid-2011 before a shoulder injury that required surgery put him out of action, fought as well as he could, but Berdych was clearly in a different league.
Berdych was off the blocks like a rocket as he broke Devvarman in the fourth game and went on to wrap up the set in 37 minutes.
The second set was almost a replica of the first with the six-foot, five-inch Berdych breaking Devvarman in the third game and then again in the fifth and seventh to close out the match.
“My off-season, after winning the Davis Cup for my country, was very busy, but I was able to do everything for my preparations for the new season.
“My game today was on a level that I wanted it to be for my first match of the new season and I am quite pleased with the way everything went,” said Berdych who hit 25 winners to Devvarman’s four, besides serving four aces.
Earlier, the gangling Cilic, a former top-10 player, but now ranked 15, lost the first set on an early break of serve, but regrouped splendidly to break the No.103 Russian twice in the second set and once in the decider to close the match that lasted an hour and 46 minutes.
Playing his first match of the new season, Cilic seemed to struggle to get his bearings in the first set, but once he found his moorings, there was no stopping the 24-year old Croatian.
Cilic went on to blast 27 winners to Stakhovsky’s nine while sending down 14 aces that compensated for the 42 unforced errors that flowed from his racquet.
The Russian put up a determined fight, but five double faults besides 38 unforced errors undid all the good work and at a time when he had Cilic on the ropes, but was unable to finish off.
Earlier, Paire took a mere 40 minutes to dispose of Sela 6-1, 6-0. The 23-year old Frenchman, ranked 47, was rarely in trouble as Sela (109) had nothing to offer against the six-foot, five-inch Paire who played near-flawless tennis.
The results (Prefix indicates seeding):
Singles (2nd round): 1-Tomas Berdych (CZE) bt WC-Somdev Devvarman (IND) 6-3, 6-1; 3-Marin Cilic (CRO) bt Sergiy Stakhovsky (RUS) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3; 5-Benoit Paire (FRA) bt Dudi Sela (ISR) 6-1, 6-0; Roberto Bautista-Agut (ESP) bt Matthias Bachinger (GER) 7-6 (4), 6-3.