Chennai: Qualifier Prakash Amritraj displayed tremendous fighting power as he came back from one set down to beat higher-ranked Rufin Guillaume of France and advance to the second round of the men's singles in the Aircel Chennai Open tennis ATP event here.
Amritraj fought dehydration and relied on variation in his tactics as he sent his opponent, ranked 90th in the world, packing with a 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-2 win in a 143-minute first round match. Amritraj, ranked 515 in the world, had made it to the main round after winning three tough qualifying matches. He now plays eighth seed Go Soeda of Japan in the second round.
It was a creditable win by Amritraj, who is on his ninth visit to the tournament. He had beaten higher ranked players in the past also. He had defeated Harsh Mankad in the first round in 2004 and then got the better of Recardo Mello of Brazil. Amritraj started off well with a break in the very first game though he was broken back in the sixth game. Then Rufin matched Amritraj, who was rooted to baseline, by serving well and taking the first set to the tie-break.
The Indian led 3-1 in the tie-break but under pressure he blew away the initiative by committing unforced errors and conceded the first set. In the second set, it was a brilliant display by Amritraj who played flawless tennis. After breaking Rufin in the sixth game, Amritraj was constantly attended by the physio on his right forehand. However, Amritraj served well and came up to play upfront on few occasions to finish the rallies.
In the deciding set, Amritraj grew in confidence and broke Rufin, who double faulted twice in the second game. Then on, Amritraj upped his game to many notches and served aces in all his remaining games before winning the match.