PUNE: Ramkumar Ramanathan and Purav Raja continued their hot run, as they defeated fellow Indians Arjun Kadhe and Saketh Myneni in the finals of the KPIT MSLTA Challenger in Pune to record their second title in as many weeks.
Fresh off their Challenger win in Kobe, Japan, Ramkumar and Raja justified their top billing in Pune as they didn’t drop a single set through the week and scored a 7-6 (3), 6-3 win in Sunday’s final.
The back-to-back titles helped Ramkumar, who has had an average season, finish the year with some sort of momentum.
“Today was all about belief,” said Raja, who claimed his 18th doubles ATP (Challenger or better) title on Sunday.
“We came here on the back of seven wins. He serves very well, so that takes away a lot of pressure of me. We are also a great returning team. Honestly, I’ve not played with this good (a) tennis player for a long time.”
Even though the duo won the match in straight sets, they had to endure a few tough moments. Both the teams started off well, but Ram-Raja snuck ahead as they broke local boy Kadhe’s serve in the seventh game.
But Myneni-Kadhe broke back immediately and forced a tie-breaker.
Later on, while serving for the match, Ramkumar survived a wobble.
He saw the 40-15 advantage on his serve vanish as he served a double fault and shanked a backhand. But an ace at deuce saw the top seeds through.
“I always enjoy playing doubles,” said the 25-year-old Ramkumar.
“It’s nice to play with someone like Purav. He’s helping me with the net game, teaching me how to use my reach to kill off points. Also, he knows what to say to keep me focused and pressure-free especially in the big moments. That’s why I could serve an ace on that last point!”
It’s clear that Raja has Ramkumar’s back even off the court as he was quick to jump to his defence even when the Chennai lad was asked of his apparent lack of success in singles in Pune. “We were the top seeds here and expected to win the doubles title, which we did,” said Raja.
“But the quality of singles players is completely different. He lost the semifinals (on Friday) to (eventual champion James Duckworth) who has been in the top-100. We didn’t exactly face that level of players in doubles. I don’t think there’s any doubt that he’s trying. It’s only a matter of time before he cracks it in both singles and doubles.”
This was Ramkumar’s third Challenger doubles title of the year. The winning team took home US$ 3100 and apart from 80 ranking points.