Sunil Kumar Sipaeya and Rohan Bopanna were the only Indian survivors in the first round of the USD 50,000 ATP SAIL Open Challenger series tournament at the DLTA courts in New Delhi on Tuesday.
While Bopanna staved off wildcard Tushar Liberhan's challenge 6-3, 6-4, Sipaeya got the better of Kuwaiti Mohammad Ghareeb 7-6 (8), 6-3 in a baseline battle.
However, only one of them will remain in contention on Wednesday as Bopanna and Sipaeya face off in the second round.
It was curtains for wildcards Vivek Shokeen and Ashutosh Singh while qualifier Ranjeet Virali Murugesan was also knocked out.
Shokeen went down fighting 1-6, 6-3, 3-6 to top seed Dane Kristian Pless.
In contrast, Ashutosh was outplayed 2-6, 1-6 by France's comeback man Sebastian De Chaunac.
Murugesan lost 4-6 1-6 to Russian Dmitry Vlasov.
In a marathon match, Ghareeb, ranked more than 100 places above Sipaeya in ATP charts, was drawn to frustration as Sipaeya chased down virtually every shot thrown at him.
The first set went on serve and was decided on a see-saw tie-breaker. Ghareeb managed to save a couple of set points but an unrelenting Sipaeya kept coming back, eventually taking the opener after Ghareeb hit a forehand wide.
The Kuwaiti began to wilt in the second set and with a couple of close line calls going against him, frustration began to show in his shots, which were at times over-hit.
Ghareeb needed a medical break for a niggling thigh strain in the middle of the second set after Sipaeya broke him to take a 4-2 lead.
Serving for the match, Sipaeya came out trumps in another long rally to become the first Indian winner of the day after Shokeen's heartbreaking loss to Pless.
Meanwhile, last week's winner Aisam-ul Haq Qureshi pf Pakistan started his campaign in style by serving out Austrian Martin Slanar 6-3, 6-4.
The 27-year-old will next take on German Dieter Kindlmann, who beat American Nathan Thompson 7-4, 6-2.
Eighth seed Ivan Sergeyev defeated Turk Ilhan Marsel 6-3 7-5 to set up a clash with Russian Dmitry Vlasov.