NEW DELHI // India's Somdev Devvarman won the men's singles final in the inaugural tennis tournament of the Commonwealth Games yesterday, defeating Australia's Greg Jones 6-4, 6-2. Devvarman's victory made up for the disappointment that India's star-studded team endured at the games after Sania Mirza, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi failed to win any golds.
"People underestimate how tough it is to get a gold medal. I worked really hard this week. I am really happy," Devvarman told reporters. After a tussle in the first set, Devvarman raced to a 5-0 lead in the second, breaking Jones three times. Jones broke Devvarman in the sixth game and won the seventh. But the lead was too much for the Australian to overcome as Devvarman held his serve in the eighth game to clinch the match.
As Jones hit a return long, Devvarman fell to the ground and stayed there for several minutes as the packed RK Khanna Stadium's centre court erupted into thunderous applause and cheers. Devvarman, 25, had a match point in the sixth game at 40-30 but was overcome with nerves and allowed Jones to claw back in a deuce game. "When you are serving a match out for your country it is not the easiest thing to do. I am not going to lie. I got a little bit nervous but I think I did well to hold back and hold serve at 5-2," he said.
He said the victory has been "one of the best things in my career for sure, to win a gold medal in front of this kind of crowd". Devvarman showed enormous agility in retrieving the ball, running across the court for returns that Jones could only hit into the net or out. "The first set was really close but the second I felt ... the momentum was with me. I started to hit the ball a lot better. I started to play a lot better," he said.
Jones suffered a jarred knee in the first game of the second set and had to take a break while his trainer attended to it. Jones said it did not really affect a game as the pain was momentary. "Somdev is a good player. He serves well. The accumulated pressure didn't let me play well. I don't think I was really that comfortable out there," he said.