New Delhi:A profligate Rohan Bopanna squandered several opportunities to go down to second-seeded Igor Kunitsyn of Russia in the first round of the ONGC ATP Challenger tournament in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Bopanna, on his way to script an upset, lost three match points and handed the Russian a 3-6 7-5 6-3 win at the DLTA courts.
The fall of the big-serving Bopanna marked the end of the Indian challenge in the singles of USD 50,000 hardcourt event as Harsh Mankad and Karan Rastogi had lost their opening round encounters earlier on Tuesday.
Mankad went down 7-5 6-2 to Alberto Francis of the United States while Rastogi found the going tough and lost 6-3 6-3 against Wesley Moodie of South Africa.
Other Indian challengers Tushar Liberhan, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Sunil Kumar Sipaeya and Navdeep Singh had lost on Monday.
Among others, Pakistan's Aisam Ul-Haq Qureshi, seeded sixth, had to toil hard for a 6-3 3-6 6-3 victory against Ivan Sergeyev of Ukraine.
Home challenge Bopanna did everything in his endeavour to win the match but tripped on the verge of victory.
After pocketing the first set and leading 5-4 in the second, the Davis Cupper lost three match points in the next game on his own serve.
Bopanna fought back in the next game and answered as he knows best with his booming serves to snatch three break points in the 11th game, but frittered away all of them to witness his own peril.
A rejuvenated Igor banked on the opportunity to make a comeback while Bopanna looked out of sorts in the decider.
Earlier, the first set saw Bopanna in cruise control mode. He served big and rushed to the net often to destabilize Igor.
Whenever he found himself in a soup, he relied on his power-packed serves to get out of the trouble.
The Indian broke Igor in the blemish free eighth game and pocketed the set in style.
In the second set, Bopanna broke Igor in the third game and looked in command to grab the match. But the twist in the tale unfolded quite late in a dramatic manner.
With the prospect of defeat almost certain, Igor woke up from a deep slumber and did the unthinkable.
The 10th game of the second set was fought tooth and nail. With 40-30 up, Bopanna lost one and then gave away the advantage twice.
The Indian was again up 0-40 in the next game but Igor came back to take it away.
After levelling 1-1, Igor looked a different player.
Getting a new lease of life, the energetic Russian returned well, slapped the ball hard and covered the court with ease to steal the show.
With the score reading 4-3 in the decider, Igor broke Bopanna in the next game and then held his serve to move to the next round.