CHENNAI: Propelled by the magnetic crowd, Chennai’s very own Ramkumar Ramanathan played the best match of his career to beat lucky loser Alexander Kudryavtsev of Russia 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in a second-round marathon at the centre court of the SDAT Stadium on Thursday night.
With the crowd rooting for him, Ramkumar after losing the first set showed nerves of steel to win the next two and move into the quarterfinals, where he will meet last year’s finalist Aljaz Bedene of Great Britain. Ranked 248th in the world, Ramkumar is the fourth Indian after Leander Paes, Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhambri to reach the Chennai Open quarterfinals.
Ramkumar’s fighting spirit and never say die attitude helped him sail past his higher-ranked Russian rival. Although he would have faced a tougher opponent had second seed Kevin Anderson of South Africa not pulled out injured, the youngster’s effort was praiseworthy.
Kudryavtsev had qualified for the Australian Open last year and also reached the main draw at the Chennai Open on three previous occasions. Ramkumar was playing him the first time and didn’t know his style of play. He failed to match the World No 164 initially and was broken in the fifth and ninth games. Although he showed fighting skills, he could not find ways to break a charged-up Kudryavtsev.
But in the second set Ramkumar lifted the overall quality of his game by not trying anything big. He stuck to basics and it worked. He tested the patience of Kudryavtsev and broke his serve in the seventh game to earn his first break. He held on to his serves to take the set 6-4 and stay in the match.
“I believed that I could beat the Russian. The crowd support was great. It propelled me to give my best,” said Ramkumar. “In first set I was missing the ball. Plus, I thought I was going too much for my shots. In the second set, controlling emotions was the key and keeping more balls in play helped my cause. My coach kept pushing me to give my best. From then, I was feeling good and my confidence too went up.”
In the decider, Ramkumar broke Kudryavtsev in the seventh game after saving a break point. In the 10th game, serving to win the match, Ramkumar was in his element. He used the Hawk-eye referral at the appropriate moment to get a call in his favour and completed a 6-4 win.
Paes Pulls Out
Multiple Grand Slam winner Leander Paes was forced to pull out of the Chennai Open men’s doubles event on Thursday. Leander’s partner, Marcel Granollers, suffering from respiratory distress, was not in a position to play. “It is a huge disappointment for me that I won’t be able to play in front of my home crowd. I hope Marcel gets fit soon,” said Paes.