- The Washington Times - Monday, August 11, 2008

Somdev Devvarman’s player profile on the ATP Tour Web site reveals little more than his birthday (Feb. 13, 1985), total winnings ($32,900) and professional record (0-4). There is no mention of his journey from northeastern India to the University of Virginia, his collegiate accolades - three consecutive appearances in the NCAA singles final and back-to-back top final rankings - or his remarkable rise on the professional circuit this summer.

A few more performances like the one Sunday at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic - a 7-5, 7-5 qualifying victory over second-seeded Go Soeda - and the ATP Web masters will be busy at work.

Devvarman, who has rocketed 477 spots in the rankings over the past two months, slammed seven aces past Soeda and won 65 percent of his service points to enter the main draw at the FitzGerald Tennis Center for a third consecutive year.

“I feel like overall I played well,” Devvarman said. “Not great, not fantastic, but overall I played well.”

After falling 6-4, 7-6 to Soeda a week ago at the Vancouver Open, Devvarman made an extra effort Sunday to put the ball deep in Soeda’s side of the court and not fall victim to the Japanese pro’s aggressiveness.

“I didn’t hit as many [balls short] as I did last week,” Devvarman said. “I think that definitely made a difference.”

The 23-year-old Devvarman capped an incredible college career in May with his second consecutive singles title. That he ever landed in Charlottesville to begin with is a story in itself. The skinny, shaggy-haired right-hander drew interest from a handful of small American colleges, but Virginia coach Brian Boland impressed Devvarman by traveling all the way to Chennai, India, for a recruiting visit.

“Before I knew it, I was on a plane over there,” said Devvarman, who wore a bright orange bandana and played before a friendly crowd Sunday. “I just feel like we had a great program there, and for people to come out and support me, it just means a lot.”

Devvarman is 22-1 in four ITF Futures/ATP Challenger events since officially turning pro in June and hopes to follow in the footsteps of 2007 Legg Mason finalist John Isner - whom Devvarman defeated in the 2007 NCAA singles final - and make a run in this year’s tournament. His quest begins Monday afternoon at center court against wild card entry Taylor Dent.

“I haven’t had the opportunity to play too many ATP events, and right now I feel like I’m playing well, so [I have an] opportunity to play in another main draw,” said Devvarman, who fell in the first round of the Legg Mason in 2006 and 2007. “Hopefully [I’ll] learn from my two losses and make the most of it.”

Notes - Robert Kendrick of the United States, Rik De Voest of Russia and Ramon Delgado of Paraguay will join Devvarman in main draw play. Kendrick defeated Andrey Golubev in three sets, De Voest took care of Pablo Cuevas and Delgado dispatched Kevin Kim. …

Main draw play got off to an abbreviated start Sunday afternoon with Nicolas Mahut’s victory over Wayne Odesnik. Tournament officials originally had two main draw matches slated for Sunday, but with much of the field, including top-seeded Andy Roddick, still in Los Angeles at the Countrywide Classic, Mahut’s 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win provided the only main draw action.

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