Ramkumar Ramanathan: Need to sort out serve

“It is not easy to play against someone who is tired, moving slowly, and asking for the towel after almost every point. It breaks your rhythm. When you serve well, you want to serve for the next point quickly,” Ramkumar said.

"Before the match, I spoke to Paes. He said I have a great opportunity to represent the country, and that I should give it my best," Ramkumar said.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Ramkumar Ramanathan put India 1-0 up in the Davis Cup match against Uzbekistan here on Friday, but it was hardly easy.

After an encounter replete with errors, Ramkumar said: “It is not easy to play against someone who is tired, moving slowly, and asking for the towel after almost every point. It breaks your rhythm. When you serve well, you want to serve for the next point quickly.

“My team-mates told me to hang in there, fight for every point, and wait for my chance. Towards the end, I was able to raise my game and finish it off.”

On his struggles with his serve, Ramkumar said: “I can’t really explain it. But, yes, I need to work on it.”

Even with Ismailov on the mat, the Indian found it hard to close it out. “I should have killed it off. Anyway, I did drop one set, but I was able to win,” he said.

Read: Davis Cup: Prajnesh, Ramkumar secure wins for India

Ramkumar praised his teammates — Leander Paes included — for motivating him. Paes, who had said he would not be around for the entire tie, was at the venue on Friday, soaking in the adulation from the crowd.

“Before the match, I spoke to Paes. He said I have a great opportunity to represent the country, and that I should give it my best. Mahesh (Bhupathi) and (Rohan) Bopanna were very encouraging too,” Ramkumar said.

Ismailov, meanwhile, downplayed injury concerns, saying he would be fit to play the reverse singles.

“My thigh hurt. It was a little bit of a cramp, which may be due to the heat. It is not serious, so I should be able to play on Sunday,” he said.