Chennai:Fourth seed Mikhail Youzhny of Russia overpowered Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France 7-5, 1-6, 6-2 to become the first player to make the singles quarterfinals of the Chennai Open ATP Tennis Championship in Chennai on Wednesday night.
In an outside court doubles encounter, Indian duo of Mustafa Ghouse and Karan Rastogi played to their potential but went down fighting to higher rated Marin Cilic of Croatia and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan 4-6, 6-7 (1).
Florent Serra made his career debut on the tour on Wednesday with a memorable win over Belgin Kristof Vliegen 7-5 4-6, 7-6 (3). Vliegen had in the first round disposed of eighth seeded Marc Gicquel 7-6 (5) 6-4.
Youzhny now awaits the winner of unseeded defending champion, Xavier Malisse (Bel) and sixth seeded Jurgen Meizer (Aut), while Serra will fight the winner of former champion, Carlos Moya of Spain and qualifier Alexandre Kudryavtsev in their respective quarterfinals.
Crowd favourite Youzhny had compiled one of his best seasons to date in 2007 cracking the top-10 for the first time but finishing the year in top 20 in three years.
Youzhny was at the receiving end in the first set after being 0-5 down but fought back to clinch it 7-5.
The Russian had to strain to claim the first set with two break points. His rival could not be undone as he continued to counter attack, most often attacking Youzhny on his forehand for winners.
Youzhny, on the other hand, displayed his strong single-handed backhand shots, sent down aces and fired in first serve returns that earned him crucial break points.
"I have not played my normal game. Today, it was up and down. I reserve them for tougher matches. I do not say that today's match was not tough.
Vasselin played brilliantly. He was able to adjust himself well at vital moments. I hope to be more consistent in the remaining matches of this tournament," he said at the post match press conference.
At times in the second set whatever Youzhny did came out unstuck.
Vasselin played a near perfect game though he committed few unforced errors at vital times when Youzhny strove to come back into the game.
Vasselin with a sixth game break on Youzhny, who double faulted to give away the game, had the advantage of two set points. He failed to put across a forehand return but finally claimed the set (6-1) to be on level terms.
Youzhny tightened his grip in the decider and was able to lead 3-1 as he found his touch to some extent in hitting the ball on the rise.
With sheer speed, Youzhny quelled Vasselin's challenge to increase his lead to 5-2 before finally sealing the issue beyond doubt making good use of two match points for a eighth game break.