CHENNAI: The year 2018 was a mixed bag for Ramkumar Ramanathan. While he reached a career-high ranking of 111 and became the first Indian since Somdev Devvarman to reach the final of an ATP World Tour event, the 24-year-old did not win a singles title.
Apart from two Davis Cup ties and the Asian Games in Jakarta, where he failed to win a medal, the Chennai lad played 35 tournaments this season. As far as effort is concerned, Ramkumar gave it his all in every one of those. But failing to win a title has made him realise that hard work doesn’t matter if you don’t apply yourself in a smarter way.
“I did what I wanted to in 2018. I played many tournaments. But it’s a part of the process and I have no regrets about it. I am still ranked around 130 and there is a long way to go,” he said on Sunday.
His confidence has increased and his game as a whole has improved, according to Ramkumar. But if there is one thing that he would like to do differently next year, it is to stay fresh for every tournament. “Every match I play next year, I need to be fresh and I can’t let the stress or tension or the tiredness affect my game. So I am trying to reduce the number of matches. And I am going to pick and choose tournaments, getting some help from Emilio Sanchez (coach) so that I can give my best.”
Each player has a unique style. While he has no intentions of changing his, Ramkumar believes that certain tweaks will help him be more ruthless. Growing up playing on grass courts, Ramkumar is aware of his strengths. But he feels there are certain areas that he needs to focus on to get better.
“I have been working a lot on my upper body to open up my shoulders so that I can get more power and also on my legs to stay in the points for longer. It will be of great help when you play on clay courts,” he said.
While reaching the main draw of a Grand Slam is priority for 2019, Ramkumar is excited about the Davis Cup tie against Italy. While focusing on singles career is the aim, he says playing for the country is a different feeling.
“We have a great team. I feel we can make it if we play well against Italy. It’s going to be on grass. It’s going to be fast and low-bouncing. So we have a chance. Even against Serbia, it was a very close tie. I started off well and lost the second set. I feel the only area we should focus on is fitness. That’s where the Europeans and Americans are better than us.”