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By Toby Davis
PARIS, May 29 (Reuters) - Somdev Devvarman discovered one of tennis’s most brutal truths on Wednesday that after 17 grand slam titles there is little room for mercy in Roger Federer’s relentless pursuit of success.
The Swiss inflicted a bruising 6-2 6-1 6-1 French Open defeat on his Indian opponent in a second round tie that lasted a little over an hour and was so one-sided that it did nothing to firm up the 2009 champion’s title credentials.
Yet for 188th-ranked Devvarman, it was a painful lesson in what separates the very best from those who ply their trade on the other side of the tennis tracks.
“I felt like I was playing wheelchair tennis and he was just playing on a PlayStation,” he said, showing as much sensitivity to political correctness as his groundstrokes had bite.
Not that Devvarman, who had never been past the second round of a grand slam and came through the exhausting qualifying competition, was expecting any favours.
“It is a grand slam and you just don’t expect a guy to take their foot off the pedal. He was probably a little worried about the rain or the light and didn’t want to spend too much time on court.”
The difference between the two players stood out as soon as the pair walked out to greet fans on Roland Garros’s second showpiece court, Suzanne Lenglen.
There was an authority about the way the Federer strode into the arena compared to his more diffident opponent, and when the action began, every shot he made had a bucket load of extra fizz.
He was never put under pressure and ruthlessly exploited his opponent’s frailties.
The Swiss did not lose a point until the third game and took the first set in just 23 minutes with two breaks of serve.
He broke a further three times in both the second and third sets as Devvarman wilted further.
“Nobody out there is excited to see Roger on the other side of the net,” was how Devvarman analysed the occasion.
”You feel like he can really hurt you from any part of the court.
”Whenever I felt I was ahead in the point, he hits a big slice or he a forehand that you don’t see coming and the next thing you know you are back on neutral terms.
“Then the guy’s offense is probably the best in the game and he has no holes. His record speaks for itself and I don’t think I have to boast for him.”
For Federer, it was more than anything a test of concentration rather than an opportunity to iron out creases in his game.
He is expecting a tougher test against third round opponent, Julien Benneteau who beat him in Rotterdam in February and pushed him hard in a five-setter at Wimbledon last year.
“I definitely think the next match is going to be a big test for me to see exactly where I stand,” the Swiss said.
”I‘m happy that I have played offensive and aggressive tennis in the first two matches, because I had the opportunity.
”I didn’t back off and start to play passive tennis and wait for mistakes. So I took it to my opponent, and I think that’s what’s good about it.
“But to be honest, I will only know more after the Benneteau match.” (Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Pritha Sarkar)