Chennai: The rather insipid Indian challenge in singles came to a sorry end as both the wild card entries, Somdev Devvarman and Ramkumar Ramanathan, lost their respective first round matches in straight sets in the $450,000 ATP-Aircel Chennai Open here Tuesday.
The sparse crowd at the SDAT Stadium had little to cheer about as Ramanathan was hammered 6-3, 6-3 by Tatsuma Ito of Japan while Chinese-Taipei's Yen-Hsun Lu, seeded sixth, waltzed past India No.1 Devvarman 6-3, 6-4.
Also making his exit was another home player and qualifier Vijay Sundar Prashanth who went down 2-6, 1-6, in just 67 minutes against Jiri Vesely, the six-foot, six-inch giant Czech.
Davis Cupper Devvarman, who will turn 30 next month and a finalist here in 2009, seemed to be playing from memory and the difference in rankings with the Indian at 138 and Lu 38, was obvious throughout the match that lacked sparkle and was very one-sided.
"First match of the new season is always tough. Somdev and I prepared for the new season in Doha last week. So, it's always tough. I focused on taking the ball a bit early and attack his second serve. I am happy I won my first match," said Lu.
Two service breaks saw 31-year old Lu race away with the first set though Devvarman did break the Chinese Taipei opponent once. The second set was almost a replica with Lu making an early break and building on that.
Earlier, 20-year old Ramanathan, ranked 285, was all but outplayed by No.87 Ito who was far too consistent and his solid all-round game proved to be the clincher.
The Indian committed as many as 32 unforced errors to Ito's 12, and it negated the nine aces that Ramanathan sent down.
So much so that Ito was never in trouble, except in the sixth game of the second set when he survived two breakpoints while Ramanathan was often wrong-footed by the clever angles which the 26-year old Japanese plucked out of nowhere.
Ito, who reached a career-high ranking of 60 in 2012, played some solid tennis in the first set that he all but dominated. A break of serve in the fourth game was sufficient for the Japanese to wrap up the set.
Ito broke Ramanathan in the first game of the second set and though the Indian showed plenty of fight, he could not convert two breakpoints in the fourth and the Japanese never looked back.