Sunday, 10 October 2010

Somdev wins first Gold for India in tennis

Somdev Devvarman ended India's week-long wait for a gold in tennis by outclassing Australia's Greg Jones 6-4, 6-2 in the men's singles competition of the Commonwealth Games before a deafening home crowd here Sunday.

The 25-year-old Indian also became the first player to win the men's singles gold in Commonwealth Games tennis, which made its debut in this edition. Australia's Matt Ebden won the bronze.

The US-based Somdev went sprawling on the ground after Jones' forehand sailed through on the match point and a packed stadium rose to give him a standing ovation. Cries of 'Somdev' reverberated in the air. The young Indian thanked the adulating crowd by bowing round the court with a namaste during the prize distribution ceremony.

The stakes were high for Somdev and he did it is style after India's gold medal hopes were quashed in the men's doubles with the loss of leading lights Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes in the semifinal, who had to settle for a bronze.

Sania Mirza, despite putting up a brave fight, could not stop Australia's Anastasia Rodionova from clinching the gold in the women's singles. Later Sania, partnering Rushmi Chakravarthi claimed the women's doubles bronze with a 6-4, 6-2 win over compatriots Nirupama Sanjeev and Poojashree Venkatesha here Sunday.

Somdev did not disaapoint the tennis fans.

'I took my chances. I am happy to win a gold for my country. It is a great honour for me to represent my country in international events. I will be happy to do it again,' Somdev said.

'People underestimate how tough it is to get a gold medal. I worked really hard this week. It is one of the best things in my career for sure, to win a gold medal in front of this kind of crowd.'

Jones, 21, was gracious in defeat. 'Somdev is a good player. He serves well. The accumulated pressure didn't let me play well. I don't think I was really that comfortable out there,' he said.

The 97th-ranked Indian made a quiet start and cleverly kept the ball in play as the towering Australian, ranked 234, went for ambitious hitting in trying to be aggressive. The Indian also muffled Jones' strategy to bring him to the net with some delectable passing shots as he dictated from the baseline.

After failing to convert three break points in the fifth game and saving one on his serve immediately, the 25-year-old Indian effected the decisive break in the seventh game. A whipping backhand pass set up the breakpoint and an erratic forehand crosscourt from Jones gifted the break to the Indian, who then served out the set with an easy put away to a deafening roar from the stands.

Jones after stretching for a forehand volley at 15-30 in the first game of the second set felt some discomfort in his knee and called for a trainer. He was soon back only to meet a belligerent Indian, who gave away nothing, and the Australian could do little but go through the motions.

However, serving for the match at 5-0, the nerves got the better of Somdev, and he dropped it.

'When you are serving a match out for your country it is not the easiest thing to do. I got a little bit nervous but I think I did well to hold back and hold serve at 5-2,' he said.

He served out the set in his next service game when Jones smacked a forehand long, exulting amidst a wildly cheering crowd.


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