Washington:Somdev Devvarman advanced to the the second round of ATP Washington Classic, setting up a grudge match against Croatian Marin Cilic who had beaten the Indian in the Chennai Open finals in January.
Somdev beat fellow qualifier Yuichi Sugita of Japan 6-0, 7-6 (8/6) on Monday and will get a chance to settle his score with the sixth seed Croatian, who had beaten him 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) in the Chennai Open final.
"I'm looking forward to facing him again," said Somdev. "That feels incredible. To see your family all around, to play on those courts at a tournament you've been watching since you were 10, that makes it special," he added.
Somdev walked off with the first set against Sugita in just 20 minutes and even pocketed the first nine games of the match before his Japanese counterpart rallied to win four games in a row.
The tie-breaker turned out to be a roller-coaster ride as Somdev lost the first two points, won the next four, then conceded four points in a row to give Sugita two set points.
But the Indian raised his game and grabbed the last four points to seal the match in 85 minutes.
"I should have done a better job finishing off the match," Devvarman said.
"I definitely let my foot off the pedal. I let him into the match but give him some credit too, fighting back to give himself some good looks at a third set," he added.
World number 153rd Somdev, who reached a career-high 127th two weeks ago, won the US national college crowns in 2007 and 2008 at the nearby University of Virginia.
"I'm a better player than last year," Devvarman said.
"I was fresh from school last year. I have more experience playing under adversity. That's what makes you a better player.
"It's about going through the ups and downs and learning from that. It has been challenging," Devvarman said. "I'm playing higher percentage tennis. That is helping me make gains," he added.