Indian qualifier knocks out Cilic in Washington

WASHINGTON: India's Somdev Devvarman avenged a Chennai finals loss to Marin Cilic by upsetting the Croatian sixth seed 7-5, 6-4 to reach the third round of the ATP Washington Classic.

In what he called his greatest career victory, the 24-year-old qualifier, who is ranked 153rd in the world, connected on 62 percent of his first serves and saved five out of seven break points to advance past 15th-ranked Cilic after one hour, 42 minutes.

"All along I played well," Devvarman said. "My game plan was to compete as hard as possible and let the chips fall where they will. I took my chances well. I'm proud of the result."

Cilic defeated Devvarman in January's Chennai ATP final, denying Devvarman a stirring triumph in his hometown and in his first ATP championship match.

"I feel like I did a lot of things wel in that match. He did better," said Devvarman. "It wasn't the final of a tour event. I wasn't nervous coming out. It was his first match of the week. I had three already under my belt."

Devvarman, a two-time US college national champion at nearby University of Virginia, evoked vocal local support in improving to 9-10 in ATP matches, 7-2 this year. He played down any notion of extra motivation from the Chennai loss.

"No hard feelings. He's a great guy," Devvarman said. "We were just two competitors."

Devvarman did hope he might help inspire Indian youth to the sport.

"Tennis is very popular in India," he said. "When I was growing up there were so many kids interested in the game. I really like seeing that. That's how India is going to get better."

Reflecting on the achievement was not something Devvarman was willing to do while still fighting for a title.

"I've put in a lot of work. I'm doing things the right way," Devvarman said. "I'll take a deep breath when I have some breathing space."

Devvarman, who finally has a day off after four matches in as many days, will next face 33rd-ranked Croatian super server Ivo Karlovic or Germany's Rainer Schuettler. Devvarman beat Karlovic in his run to the Chennai final.

US top seed Andy Roddick, in his first event since losing an epic Wimbledon final to Roger Federer, could await Devvarman in the quarter-finals of the 1.4 million-dollar hardcourt event.

"Andy who?" joked Devvarman. "I'm aware of where I am but I have to take it one match at a time."

Germany's Benjamin Becker fired 27 aces to beat American Robby Ginepri 7-6 (7/3), 6-7 (1/7), 7-6 (7/4) and book a second-round match with Roddick, a three-time Washington champion who had an opening bye.

"He had a big break and a good run at Wimbledon," Becker said. "It's his first match on hardcourts but you have to think he's going to play well. These conditions, with his serve, it's going to be tough to get a read on it.

"I'm just going to have fun with it and see if I can do some damage."

Former world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain beat Ecuador's Nicolas Lapentti 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-0 to reach the second round just two days after losing to Russia's Nikolay Davydenko in a clay final at Umag, Croatia.

"Of course I was tired. It has been very difficult to recover well," Ferrero said. "After a month on clay it was difficult to play a match like this."

Ferrero, the 2003 French Open winner, will meet 16th-ranked Davis Cup teammate Tommy Robredo in the second round. Ferrero won the deciding last match to lift host Spain past Germany in a Davis Cup quarter-final tie last month.

"We can be friends but it's going to be a fight," Ferrero said.

Ferrero snapped a five-year title drought in April at Casablanca but at 29 is pondering retirement.

"I'm motivated," Ferrero said. "I've returned to the same level as before. My goal this year is to finish in the top 15. If I keep up that level I want to play this year and next for sure. After that we will see."

Defending champion and second seed Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina plays his opening match after a first-round bye later against 62nd-ranked Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan.