CHENNAI: Dominic Thiem has won eight titles on the ATP World Tour. Ramkumar Ramanathan, coming into Antalya Open, had won a total of three matches at that level, with his last coming in Chennai in 2016. While the Austrian, who had reached the quarters at the French Open, was given a bye to the pre-quarters, Ramkumar had to win two matches to even get into the main draw.
So when they walked out for their pre-quarterfinal match, it wasn’t just David facing Goliath but David’s son facing Goliath’s father. But the World No 222 ripped up the form book, spat on the puzzled faces of tennis gods and won 6-3, 6-2 in a shade under one hour. The Indian’s performance was so complete he finished the match off with an ace, his 10th.
It’s even more remarkable when you take into consideration that Ramkumar almost did not play the event. “He was supposed to come back before playing in Antalya,” his father Ramanathan told Express after watching his son win.
“But he took a last minute decision and decided to stay back for one more week.” It was an educated gamble by the 22-year-old because he likes playing in Antalya, a place where he has seen success in Futures events.
“He has been playing well recently and importantly he has played in Antalya before,” Ramanathan remarked. “He knows the conditions there and it worked today. Given he has been playing non-stop for 7-8 weeks, he will come back and rest for sometime.” Coming on the heels of not a single Indian man playing at a qualifying event for a Major, a first since the 2012 French Open, this is a much-needed boost.
The Indian gave notice of his potential with a fine first round win over veteran Brazilian Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-3, 6-4. It was also one of the biggest wins ever recorded by an Indian singles player in the history of the Tour.
It’s definitely the biggest since Somdev Devvarman’s win over Juan Martin del Potro at the Dubai Duty Free Championships in February 2014 (the Argentine retired after losing the first set in a tie-break). Ramkumar, who will likely rise up to at least 184 in the rankings next week, will next face Marcos Baghdatis for a place in the quarters.