Chennai Open: Ramanathan crashes out to Bedene

Ramkumar Ramanathan, India’s only hope in the singles category, revelled in his aggression and cheers by the crowd, barring a crucial phase which eventually proved the difference, to go down fighting against Britain’s Aljaz Bedene 7-6, 4-6, 3-6.

Ramkumar Ramanathan during the quarter final match action at the Aircel Chennai Open Tennis Tournament on Friday.   -  R. Ragu

Sometimes, the difference between a win and a loss is body language. Ramkumar Ramanathan, India’s only hope in the singles category, revelled in his aggression and cheers by the crowd, barring a crucial phase which eventually proved the difference, to go down fighting against Britain’s Aljaz Bedene 7-6, 4-6, 3-6.

A flurry of unforced errors got his opponent the crucial break in the second set to take the match into the third, which was marked by another poor service game from Ramkumar, and a valiant rearguard effort that had him save five match points. In the end, though, the composure from Bedene helped him overcome the storm stirred by the Indian.

Things may have been different, however, had Ramkumar utilised his opportunities to break Bedene in the latter half of the second set. Not only were the break points saved, but the direction of the match turned against the run of play. A couple of wayward and miscalculated forehand shots and a misjudgement from Ramkumar to enable a passing shot from Bedene got him breaking the Indian at 5-4, and thereby take the set.

Ramkumar’s next service game, at 0-1 down in the deciding set, also went the way of his opponent. By this time, Ramkumar’s confidence had stalled as his shots were going out or into the net. It seemed fatigue had set in, after playing so long at a level matching the ATP World No. 45, and his engine was starting to show hiccups. It took a great deal, however, to finally down him, as he tried his best to get the break back.

The penultimate game of the match was served out by Ramkumar in less than a minute, but the final game, when Bedene needed to keep his serve to clinch victory, turned out to be full of dramas. The players engaged in hard, long rallies, and Ramkumar kept saving match points. Bedene even lost two points carelessly, getting a couple of easy balls long and out. Ramkumar’s resistance, and thereby the Indian interest in the singles category, was broken at the end of another long rally.

On the contrary, in the first set, Ramkumar looked eager and confident. There was nothing to choose between the two players, and in the ensuing tie-breaker at 6-6, Ramkumar took a crucial point on Bedene’s service at 5-5, and then claimed another point, on his own serve, to clinch the set.

Bedene’s composure in the face of defeat, however, in some ways justified the difference in the experience and maturity of the two players. He will play either Borna Coric or Roberto Baustista-Agut in the semi-finals.

In doubles, the top seed pair of Rajeev Ram and Raaven Klaasen were knocked out of the tournament.

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