Seventh seed Lu Yen-hsun of Taiwan began the new year on the wrong foot as he crashed to a first-round defeat in the US$430,000 ATP Chennai Open on Tuesday.
Lu, the 29-year-old veteran ranked 59th in the world, failed to shrug off the rustiness of the off-season to lose to No. 123 Matthias Bachinger of Germany 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.
“It took me time to settle down. I made too many mistakes,” said Taiwan’s premier player, who finished in the top 100 for the fifth straight year last year.
The big-built Bachinger next plays Roberto Agut of Spain, who beat Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia 7-6 (8-6), 6-2.
There was no early trouble for fifth-seeded Benoit Paire of France, who brushed aside Italian Flavio Cipolla 6-3, 6-4 in 1 hour, 18 minutes.
Paire, one of the most improved players on the circuit after rising from No. 95 to No. 47 last year, was delighted to get his first match out of the way.
“It is nice to start the season with a win,” said the 23-year-old from Avignon, France. “It is not easy to adjust to this hot weather, but I hope to play better in my next match.”
Indian wild card Somdev Devvarman, fit again after an injury-prone year that saw him slip to No. 663 in the rankings, beat No. 106 Jan Hajek of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-3.
“A real positive was that I felt good out there, both physically and mentally,” said Devvarman, who faces top seed Tomas Berdych in the second round today.
“Playing Tomas will obviously be tough, but I am confident I can put up a good show. Besides, I will have the Chennai crowd behind me. They are always so supportive,” he said.
There was further good news for the hosts as qualifier Prakash Amritraj came from behind to defeat Frenchman Guillaume Rufin 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-3 in a tough center-court match.
“The idea was hang in there after losing the first set,” said Amritraj, who was cheered on from the sidelines by his father, Vijay, a former Indian Davis Cup star and now a television commentator. “The first set could have gone my way too, so I was not unduly worried. It was good that I kept up the pressure in the next two sets.”
Amritraj will take on eighth-seeded Japanese Go Soeda next for a place in the quarter-finals.
German qualifier Cedrik-Marcel Stebe beat Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands 6-4, 6-4 to qualify for a second-round match against fourth seed Stanislas Wawrinka of Swizerland.
The top four seeds — Berdych, Janko Tipsarevic, Marin Cilic and Wawrinka — were given byes in the first round.