Chennai Open: Ramkumar’s dream run continues

Ramkumar took it upon himself to send the ball as deep in the opposition court as possible. In his words, his endeavour was of ‘putting every ball in’, and no matter how lost the rally looked, he would retrieve it competently.

Ramkumar Ramanathan celbrates after qualifying for the quarterfinal.   -  R. Ragu

A rousing rearguard effort, helped by an encouraging crowd, had Ramkumar Ramanathan storming into the quarter-finals of the Chennai Open with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win against a tenacious Alexander Kudryavtsev. After losing the first set tamely, he made extra efforts to stay within the rallies he was engaging in and make Kudryavtsev work harder for his points. The cheering magnified with each rally won, and the ensuing momentum helped Ramkumar just enough to earn and convert two break points in the second and third sets, to seal the contest in his favour.

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After the first set ended on a low, with Ramkumar broken a second time in the set, he came back rejuvenated. He went toe-to-toe in the first eight games of the set, and when Kudryavtsev looked good to take another service game, Ramkumar refused to budge. After reaching deuce, the game oscillated in both directions in numerous rallies before Kudravtsev gave away the vital break via a double fault.

At a similar juncture in the third set, at 3-3, Ramkumar took another break, the one that clinched the match, by a scorching forehand winner to end a hard-working rally.

Ramkumar took it upon himself to send the ball as deep in the opposition court as possible. In his words, his endeavour was of ‘putting every ball in’, and no matter how lost the rally looked, he would retrieve it competently. “I was keeping more balls in play, and he was also getting off balance.”

Kudryavtsev was hitting the ball cleaner in first set

In the first set, however, he was wayward. He was broken twice, Kudryavtsev was hitting the ball cleaner, and it was essential he started afresh with a fresher game-plan. Half the battle won for him was his identification of what was going wrong. “I thought in the first set I was going too much for my shots [sic]. I was missing my shots.”

The tight second set had players going neck and neck. The game that gave Ramkumar the break had about four occasions of deuce, but he didn’t give in. He believed he saw an opening. “I knew that guy will crack,” he said, when talking about what he felt during the second set. “After the second set, I was feeling much better.”

“I just believed I could beat this guy. I think the break game was important for me to get the momentum.”

His endeavour was boosted by the crowd egging him on, something that he will hope to benefit from in the quarter-finals as well. He will face last year’s finalist Aljaz Bedene, who defeated Luca Vanni of Italy in three sets 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.

Indian prospects in the doubles received a severe blow when Marcel Granollers, the partner of Leander Paes, suffered an illness. The duo was, thus, ruled out of the tournament. “It’s disappointing not to be able to play today in front of my home fans. I feel for Marcel and wish him a speedy recovery ahead of the Australian Open,” said Leander.