Playing World No.1 was a Great Experience: Somdev

Indian Wells (California), March 17 (IANS) India's Somdev Devvarman says it was a great experience playing his idol as he went down fighting, 5-7, 4-6, to World No.1 Rafael Nadal of Spain in the pre-quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas ATP Tour 1000 tournament here Wednesday night.

Somdev, facing Nadal for the first time in his career, played terrific tennis to stretch the left-handed Spaniard and with a little bit of luck he would have served for the first set had he converted a break point to go 6-5 up. It was Somdev who had an early break of serve, but Nadal quickly broke back in the fourth game.

"After the first couple of games, I felt I was just out there playing a match," the 26-year-old said during the post-match press conference after becoming the first Indian to reach the fourth round of the elite ATP Masters 1000 event.

Somdev landed his first serve consistently. Ironically, it was his serve that let him down in the crucial 12th game of the first set and the 10th in the second when he started with double-faults and lost both the games at love.

In an absorbing match, lasting an hour and 55 minutes, Somdev fought on level terms with Nadal and the Spaniard had to dig deep to quell the resistance.

"I didn't think about who I was facing. I started out well, too, so I felt very comfortable on the court. I was excited to play and the best part is I had played good tennis leading into this match. It was a great experience to play the number one player in the world in one of the biggest stadiums in the world," he said.

Nadal had words of praise for the World No.84, who last year had won the singles gold at the Commonwealth Games and the Asiad.

"For sure, he did well and had a very good tournament. He had a very, very good victory over Xavier Malisse (in the third round) and I wish him all the best for the rest of the season," he said.

Meanwhile, another Indian, Rohan Bopanna, and his Pakistani partner Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi stormed into the doubles semifinals, beating Serbian pair Novak Djokovic and Viktor Troicki 6-1, 7-6(5).

Bopanna and Qureshi, who had earlier stunned Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, continued their great form to prevail over the Serbs.

The Indo-Pak Express was not broken at all, though the pair saved four break points, while the broke Serbs thrice.

Bopanna and Quresh await the winners of the match between Scotland's Murray brothers, Andy-Jamie, and Ukranian Alexandr Dolgoplov and Belgian Malisse.



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