Chennai Open: Ramanathan realistic about his son’s chances

Regardless of his son Ramkumar participating, Ramanathan has been a regular follower of the Chennai Open since its inception

Ramanathan... 'I never miss the Chennai Open.'   -  Abhishek Mukherjee

Ramkumar Ramanathan during a practice session.   -  R. Ragu

As the only ATP tournament in India, the Chennai Open has been a landmark event in the tennis landscape of the country. The local participation, albeit as wildcards, gives the Indians a chance to compete with players more prominent in the ATP circuit and thereby gain experience for a leap in the rankings. Somdev Devvarman gained a wildcard for a spot in the singles in the main draw in 2009, and made the tournament memorable by reaching the final. This time, the wildcard has been given to 21-year-old Ramkumar Ramanathan, who ranks No. 248. Ramanathan, his proud father, was realistic about his son’s chances, in a chat with Sportstar.

“[Only players in the] top 100 are playing. He’s the only one with a rank of more than 200. He’s been preparing very well. During the rains, he was about to come to Chennai, but then, decided to go to Coimbatore for training. He trains abroad, mostly. These two years he’s been doing that.”

For Ramkumar, the professional tennis life has been that of a lot of travel. “He goes with a coach, sometimes he goes without a coach. Travels all alone, all by himself. At the age of 17, he started travelling. He won’t stay in Chennai for 10 days at a stretch,” Ramanathan said.

Regardless of his son participating, however, Ramanathan has been a regular follower of the Chennai Open since its inception. “I’ve been seeing Chennai Open for 20 years. Even when my son was not a player, I used to come and watch [this event]. Such an ATP tournament you’ll not have in India. I never miss it.”

Ramanathan threw light on his son’s busy schedule. “After the Chennai Open, he’ll go off to the Australian Open, for the qualifying. From there he [will go] to Manila, [his schedule has] been packed for at least 3-4 weeks. After these weeks, he’ll have a schedule for another five weeks.”

And his aims for the future? Put simply, “He wants to climb up to at least 150 [in the ATP rankings]. But it is not easy. He has to fight very hard. No player will leave an inch.”

The tournament starts on January 4.