Ramkumar Ramanathan’s campaign at the Tata Open Maharashtra may have ended with a 2-6, 1-6 quarterfinal loss in doubles on Thursday but Rajeev Ram, who along with Britain’s Joe Salisbury, defeated him and Mexico’s Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela, believes the Indian has it in him to improve.
Ramkumar, predominantly a singles player, entered the top 100 in doubles rankings last year after winning two titles with Rohan Bopanna in a month, the second of which came in Pune.
In the post-match press conference, Rajeev, World No. 3 in doubles, said, “Ramkumar has got the potential. He’s got the ability for sure. Maybe, he lacks a little structure and maybe some discipline perhaps. Hopefully, there’s been so many great Indian doubles players, both men and women in history, so he’s able to take some lessons from those people because I know few of them are probably willing to help.”
Reigning US Open and ATP Tour Finals champion Rajeev, although an American by nationality, has his family roots in India. He enjoyed a great deal of support during the 56-minute quarterfinal clash on Court 1. “I love it. It’s one of the highlights when I get to play in India. I haven’t played here since 2016, so when this kind of worked in our schedule, we spoke about it. For me, it’s a great thrill. It was nice to play against an Indian as well because that helps the atmosphere. It’s special for me for sure when there’s a bit of support here because I’m quite close to my heritage and I enjoy that a lot,” he said.
Rajeev made his tour-level debut as a 17-year-old in 2001 and since then, has seen the doubles game change significantly, whether it’s about various playing styles or the rules. He said, “It has changed a lot. From the scoring system to the entry - singles players can enter with singles rankings, which wasn’t the case when I first started.
“The biggest thing is you have a lot more different styles. With more singles players playing, you have to think about people staying back, playing more from the baseline. I, actually, quite enjoy it. It’s a great challenge. It brings a lot of variety to the game and it’s something that is better in doubles than it is in singles. We have had to figure out different ways to play these different opponents, and it’s a fun challenge,” he added.
Top seeds Rajeev and Salisbury face fourth-seeded Belgian duo of Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen in the semifinals of the ATP250 event on Friday.