A gutsy Ramkumar Ramanathan buried a sluggish start to eke out an inspiring win over Alexander Kudryavtsev and enter the men's singles quarterfinals of the Chennai Open on Thursday.
Wild-card Ramkumar worked his way to a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over higher-ranked Russian, who had entered the event as a Lucky Loser.
He next plays world no.45 Aljaz Bedene, who defeated Luca Vanni 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.
The win meant that Ramkumar is now unbeaten in his last 12 matches. He had won two ITF Futures titles at the end of the 2015 season in Gwalior and Mumbai, winning five matches each in the two events.
He had shocked world number 98 Daniel Gimelo-Traver in the first round here and with this victory he has entered the quarterfinals of an ATP Tour event for the first time in his career.
Ramkumar changed the complexion of the game after losing the first set with his sheer grit and doggedness. He improved as the match progressed and egged on by the fans, managed to down a strong opponent.
The Russian had done his homework well and did not allow Ramkumar to play on his big forehand initially. He made Ramkumar run on both the flanks, often forcing the Indian to play his shots running, without getting much time to settle or get into rhythm.
"I was going too fast. I was making him play. Got the confidence through the third set. Alexander is a great player, goes for his shots. He made me run, it was not easy but I found my way," said Ramkumar after the win.
Earlier, Italian qualifier Thomas Fabbiano scripted the biggest upset of the tournament when he ousted sixth seed Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-4, 7-5 in 77 minutes.
Playing his first match on centre court, Fabbiano gave a fine exhibition of controlled tennis. He meets third seed French Benoit Paire in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Facing a tough rival in Lukas Rosol, ranked 55, world number 19 Paire had anxious moments throughout the match but remained focused to win 7-5 7-5.
Muller became the second seeded player to have been shown the door after seventh seed Vasek Pospisil lost to unseeded Aljaz Bedene of England on Wednesday.
Fabbiano was able to beat Muller mainly on his consistent performance while his opponent made a lot of unforced errors, especially on crucial points.
The Italian served superbly to serve out his tenth game at love to win the first set in 30 minutes.
In the second, Muller made amends and broke Fabbiano in the second game but the Italian returned the favour in the very next game. Fabbiano managed to come up with a break in the 11th game and then served out