Ramkumar Ramanathan squandered break points in the deciding third set as another home players fell by the way side at the Tata Open Maharshtra here on Tuesday.
His serve and volley game worked wonders in the opening set but Ramkumar allowed world number 62 Pedro Martinez to make a comeback in the first round contest which the Spaniard won 3-6 7-5 6-3.
In the two hour and 28-minute contest, Ramkumar got a grip initially but the Spanish player found a way to trouble the home favourite.
Martinez moved Ramkumar around with deep returns and often landed shots near the Indian’s feet, making it tough for him to pick up half volleys.
His passing shots were a delight to watch and they made a lot of difference to the outcome of the match.
Egged on by the crowd, Ramkumar fought his heart out when Martinez was serving for the match but hit a forehand long at 30-all.
Ramkumar saved a match point when his rival netted a forehand. Martinez eventually closed the game with a deft volley winner.
Three of the four Indians in the main draw are now out of the singles. Sasi Kumar Mukund is the only one remaining. He plays later this evening.
Ramkumar struggled with his first serve initially but still dished out serve and volley style. Most of his points came in that fashion.
Martinez relied a lot on his forehand and few of his returns did trouble Ramkumar.
On a hot and sultry afternoon, the first game of the match lasted almost 10 minutes with Ramkumar dropping serve after playing five deuce points.
Martinez returned low straight on to Ramkumar’s shoes, and he could not pick up the half volley, burying it on the net.
Martinez though could not build on the advantage and dropped his own, struggling to contain his unforced errors.
The Indian came up with splendid cross court backhand winners in the fourth game to get his first break of the match. A comfortable hold put him firmly in the driver’s seat, opening up a 4-1 lead.
An intense game followed in which Martinez saved three breakpoints, smartly using the drop shots but Ramkumar fired a screaming backhand winner past his rival to go up 5-1.
Serving for the set, Ramkumar dropped his serve with Martinez running him around and passed him thrice.
Ramkumar fired an ace to earn two set points and converted the first when Martinez netted a backhand return.
The Indian had plenty of chances to draw blood early in the second set but missed four break points, including two in the third game, and could not convert.
It was on serve till the 11th game. Ramkumar was one point away from the tie-break when Martinez found a fantastic passing winner from the corner to make it deuce.
A crushing cross court winner gave Martinez his first set point and Ramkumar double-faulted to give the Spaniard a chance to keep the match alive.
Once Ramkumar lost break chances in the decider, Martinez was all over.