When he serves well, runs like a hare and whips the forehand with such flourish, Ramkumar Ramanathan can be more than a handful. That was precisely what he showed the seasoned Jose Statham on the opening day of the Davis Cup tie against New Zealand.
The 22-year-old Ramkumar, who went through a low phase recently, was keen to credit coach Emilio Sanchez of Spain for not only putting him back on the right track but also ensuring that he moved in the right direction.
After winning two Futures back to back in Qatar, Ramkumar, ranked a career-best 196 in July last year, was perhaps unprepared for the high quality ATP Tour event in Chennai at the start of the season.
Qualifier Yuki Bhambri blew him off the court for the loss of two games, after he had been given a wild card entry.
"My schengen visa was getting over. When I spoke to Emilio Sanchez, he asked me come to the U.S. I went there for two weeks and he really helped me out. I am grateful to him for the quality of tennis that I play now," said Ramkumar.
The wiry lad, who made a mark at home in the Chennai Open in 2014 when he qualified and beat Somdev Devvarman in three sets in the first round, said that he initially worked on clay in Florida, before starting to play points.
"Later we shifted to hard courts to prepare for the Davis Cup, " recalled Ramkumar.
The foundation for the solid performance was built over a strong serve. "I don’t remember to have served this well ever before," said Ramkumar, whose best serve was clocked 213 kmph on the speed radar.
"When I was in the shower after the match against Statham, I suddenly thought whether I dropped serve in the match. When I realised that I had not, I felt very happy," said Ramkumar.
In fact, Ramkumar faced only three breakpoints in the whole match against Jose Statham and it was all at 0-40 in the fourth game of the second set. He served superb at this stage and wound up that game with a 204-kmph serve on the second gamepoint.
It was a clinical performance as Ramkumar won 91 points compared to his opponent's 76, and delivered 15 aces.
For Ramkumar, who trains with coaches Juan Balcells and Sergio Casal in Spain, it was a welcome boost at a time when he needed to step it up and play like a top-200 player.
If he sustains the good work and the positive attitude, there is no reason why Ramkumar cannot jump back from his current rank of 276 and better his best rank so far.
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