Somdev Devvarman's Chennai Open adventure had a disastrous end on Wednesday. He was thrashed by Janko Tipsarevic in the second round.
The fourth seed from Serbia played near-flawless tennis to hand the Indian a 6-2, 6-1 pounding and advance to the last eight for the second straight year.
Somdev, who surprised all by reaching the final here last year and impressed his opening round win over Rainer Schuettler on Tuesday, ran out of steam (and ideas) against an opponent who refused to be overawed by a partisan crowd and the tremendous hype surrounding the home favourite.
Tipsarevic, nicknamed Tipsy, called the shots right from the start and did not allow Somdev space to mount any resistance whatsoever.
The fact that Somdev won just one game (out of nine) on his service in the 78-minute encounter is an apt indicator of his failure to put any pressure on his opponent.
And his failure to match the Serbian's power play from the back court is yet another testimony of his abject surrender.
The Indian later admitted his failure on both counts, terming the loss a 'hiccup' and credited his opponent for playing a better match overall.
"All credit to Janko for playing really well and making me look silly," said Somdev in the post-match conference.
"I don't think I hit the ball poorly but he just hit them better," added the 24-year-old.
"However, more than his power it was his court positioning that did me in besides the fact that I couldn't hold serve."
The loss means Somdev stands to lose 130 ranking points -- a deduction that will see his ranking plummet to about 160 (from 126 at present) when the new list is released.
Coming to the match per se, it started on an erratic note with both the players failing to hold their service in the opening games.
There were five breaks of serve in the first five games before Tipsarevic finally held in the sixth, courtesy a lucky net cord.
Somdev, having been broken right at the start, dropped his serve for the fourth time (in the seventh game) to allow the Serbian stretch his lead to 5-2.
The Indian had a break-point in the next game but the fourth seed held on. A beautiful lob gave Tipsarevic his first set point and another winner helped him pocket the set.
Somdev held serve, for the first time in the match, in the first game of the second set but came back to his errant ways soon after.
Tipsarevic stepped on the pedal, capitalised on his opponent's errors and breezed through the second set, breaking Somdev's serve thrice again in the process.
It was without doubt one of the most disappointing performaces by the Indian ace in recent times and reiterated the fact that hype alone can't hide the lack of effort (and class).
Cilic struggles to advance
Meanwhile, defending champion Marin Cilic survived an early hiccup before advancing into the last eight at the expense of Marcel Granollers.
It took the second seed from Croatia 166 minutes to get the better of his Spanish opponent, the final scoreline -- 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-4 -- a pointer to the fact that the match could have gone either way.
Cilic got the decisive break in the seventh game of the third set, finally ending Granollers's stiff resistance.
"It was not easy for me today," admitted Cilic in the post-match conference.
"Marcel played a very good game, but once I broke him in the second set, my game started to improve and I served and volleyed much better."
With top seed Robin Soderling making an opening round exit, Cilic has all the reasons to fancy his chances of a second straight title.