SAG tennis: Ramkumar completes a golden double

Saketh Myneni, given the top billing, played true to his form with facile straight-set wins until meeting a resolute Ramkumar Ramanathan, who hammered out an authoritative victory in the final.

Keeping the Indian flag flying... Ramkumar Ramanathan (left; gold) and Seketh Myneni (silver) with their medals at the 12th South Asian Games in Guwahati.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

Ramkumar Ramanathan outplayed compatriot and senior Indian Davis Cup team member Saketh Myneni, 7-5, 6-2, in the men’s singles final of the South Asian Games here on Thursday.

The victory in the singles ensured a golden double for Ramkumar, who had won the doubles title partnering Vijay Sundar Prashanth on Wednesday.

With top-seeded Sharmadaa Baluu and Prarthana Thombare combining efficiently to outlast the second-seeded pair of Rishika Sunkara and Natasha Palha in the women’s doubles, India completed a sweep of all five gold and silver medals on offer.

The teams from Pakistan and Sri Lanka were made to fight for bronze in all these events, where India was simply indomitable.

The men’s singles final was expected to be a keen contest with both the in-form players having made a good start to the season. Beating the much higher ranked players, Ramkumar had reached the quarterfinals of the season opener, the Chennai Open, while Myneni had made it to the semi-finals of a $75000 ATP Challenger in Australia before coming to the South Asian Games.

Saketh, given the top billing, played true to his form with facile straight-set wins until meeting a resolute Ramkumar in the final.

“My forehand came good today and that eventually got the match for me against a very good player like Saketh,” Ramkumar, currently ranked 215 in the world, said after the win. “This gold gives me a good start to the season as I will now try to break into the top 200 in the world rankings and keep going further,” he added.

The players held serve until Ramkumar produced some good winners to break Saketh in the ninth game and make it 5-4. Myneni broke Ramkumar back in the next game to make it 5-5, but his younger opponent looked in no mood to give up, as he broke the former again in the 11th to regain the advantage. He then held serve to win the set 7-5.

Saketh broke Ramkumar in the second game to open up a 2-0 lead. However, Ramkumar produced a fine baseline game to put a stop to Saketh’s progress. He won the next six games to wrap up the set 6-2 and with it the match.

Having lost his previous two meetings in straight sets, this was the first time after 2014 that Ramkumar has beaten Saketh. Their head-to-head, though, reads 3-2 in favour of Saketh.

The results:

Men’s singles final: Ramkumar Ramanathan bt Saketh Myneni 7-5, 6-2.

Women’s doubles final: Sharmadaa Baluu & Prarthana Thombare bt Rishika Sunkara & Natasha Palha 7-5, 2-6, (10-4).