Ramkumar Ramanathan: Playing fewer events is my plan for 2020

The 25-year-old tennis star will instead train more to increase chances of success on the ATP circuit in 2020.

Ramkumar Ramanathan...“By God’s grace, I don’t have any injuries and hope it keeps going all through my career.”   -  R. Ragu

From next year, Ramkumar Ramanathan has decided to reduce the number of competitions he participates in to train more and increase chances of success on the ATP circuit.

Currently ranked 190th, the 25-year-old has also prioritised improving his rankings, and hopes to get into the top 120. He spoke to Sportstar on the sidelines after a fruitful week at the KPIT-MSLTA Challenger, making a mark in singles and doubles.

Asked about the load on his strapping frame from playing both formats at the same event, he observed: “In Barcelona, we train four hours every day, it is always a long day, so I am O.K. with [the workload] of singles and doubles. By God’s grace, I don’t have any injuries and hope it keeps going all through my career. When we do the pre-season, we do a good three weeks. Whether I do it in Spain, India or the United States, I focus a lot on the fitness and eating properly. I train a lot of hours to last the season.”

‘Small breaks’

Ramkumar is looking to regain form and accumulate points so that training and competition can go hand in hand. “Next year, I need to take these small, small breaks of two-three weeks of training, then two-three weeks of tournament play. When you play [on] the ATP, you need this energy, this fire inside you. It will show up on the big points. Playing [fewer] events is my plan.”

He elaborated: “Being ranked 160 (on the ATP list), it is not easy to reduce tournaments. If I can get into 120 or top 100, then obviously life is easier. If you are [ranked inside 100], you are guaranteed a place in the main draw, like Praj (Prajnesh Gunneshwaran) did. You go into a tournament on a Thursday, train four days at a stretch and play on Tuesday. It is an amazing situation to be in.”

Prajnesh and Sumit Nagal are the top two ranked Indian professionals, followed by Ramkumar.

Read | Pune Challenger: Ramkumar in semifinals, Nagal goes down fighting

Ramkumar’s serve-and-volley game is built on firm foundation of endurance and feisty strokes honed on clay courts in Europe. “If you are playing a qualifying round in ATP and reach on a Thursday/Friday, then Saturday is your first match. Life is tough, that is how it works.”

‘Tough year’

Ramkumar is looking to build on a busy season where the high so far has been a Challenger singles semifinal finish at Glasgow. The Pune Challenger is the year-end ATP competition for Ramkumar, followed by the Davis Cup. “[The year] 2019 has been a tough year for me, I did well in Glasgow Challenger, did well in China at the start of the year. Matches I have lost have been close, the scores were close. I have had my chances. I am learning from those results and focus on what I do well.”

Personal coach T. Chandrasekhar’s presence during tournaments in India make a difference. “Chandra sir, my childhood coach, is here. I have to thank him because he is with me throughout in India and always been of great help. With him around and talking about the match, I am relaxed outside the court and able to give off my best,” said Ramkumar.

For Ramkumar, an IOC employee, competing in Australia early next year is part of plan, though nothing confirmed yet.