Advice from coach ‘priceless’, says Ramkumar

The Indian tennis star credited his coaches - in particular Emilio Sanchez - for his phenomenal run in recent weeks.

Ramkumar Ramanathan (right) is “well-positioned to break in the top-100,” feels Mahesh Bhupathi.   -  Bhagya Prakash K.

At the best of times, Ramkumar Ramanathan is a man of few words.

He would rather let his racquet do all the talking. Thus, despite a phenomenal run in recent weeks when he has played a series of good matches against top quality opposition, with the best against world No. 8 Dominic Thiem on grass in Antalya, the 22-year-old has nothing much to say except expressing gratitude to his coaches.

It has not been a surprise, as Ramkumar always had the potential to play the big game, as he has been giving the glimpses at the Chennai Open in recent years, except at the start of this season when he was outplayed by Yuki Bhambri. Maybe, it was a timely wake-up call and he sought direct attention from coach Emilio Sanchez in Florida to set his career back on the rails. “I have been working hard, and been playing many matches. I think the advice that I have been getting from my coach Emilio Sanchez on a daily basis is priceless,” stressed Ramkumar, without going into the details of the advice.

After having worked with Juan Balcells and Sergio Casal, it was something specific for Ramkumar that helped him galvanise all his energy and focus on the way forward. “Emilio Sanchez helped me during the start of the year in his academy in Florida. I have been following it and listening to his words,” said Ramkumar, after stumbling out of the final qualifying round in the ATP Tour event on grass in Newport.

Interesting times

With Saketh Myneni making a strong return to the circuit and Yuki Bhambri stepping it up gradually towards regaining his best game, it should be interesting times ahead for the Davis Cup captain Mahesh Bhupathi in the World Group play-off tie against Canada. The ruthless attitude of Mahesh has generally sharpened everyone but he put things in perspective.

“We have always known Ram has had the potential when he did well in Chennai a few years ago. I think his coaching change this year and working with Emilio Sanchez has helped him a lot and given him a lot of confidence,” observed Mahesh.

On his part, Ramkumar said it was great to have people believing in him and guiding him on the right path. “It is always good to have people around, who believe that you can make it. That gives me the belief too. I am grateful for that. The win against Thiem makes me believe more,” said Ramkumar, allowing himself a little more expression than normal.

“He is India’s No. 1 currently and I think is positioned well to break the top-100, if he continues his run in the second half of the season,” said Mahesh. Ramkumar acknowledged the role played by coach T. Chandrasekaran right from the beginning of his career by saying, “Chandra sir is one of the main reasons of my journey. He still comes to see my play whenever I am in Chennai. I am really thankful to him,” and added, “I have to enjoy every match and keep going.”

Having negotiated the bad stretches with conviction, Ramkumar does relish the smooth flow in the professional journey. He is prepared to do everything in his power to sustain the good run, with suitable guidance. Ramkumar has won 31 ITF Futures titles including 16 in singles, and is looking forward to capitalising on his stay in the big league.

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