Ramkumar Ramanathan put the loss in singles behind him, partnering Mexico’s Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela in a thrilling 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), [11-9] win over Indo-Dutch pair of Rohan Bopanna and Botic van de Zandschulp in the opening round of the Tata Open Maharashtra here on Tuesday.
Last year, Ramkumar won the title, partnering Bopanna, but this time around, they were on the opposite side of the net at the Center Court of the Balewadi Stadium.
The first set was a tight affair and had zero break of serves. A double fault and a fluffed forehand volley in the tiebreak saw Van De Zandschulp and Bopanna trail 1-5. Ramkumar returned the favour with a heavy forehand going long and an error on the forehand volley to restore parity at 5-all. However, a strong forehand return from Reyes-Varela on the Dutchman’s second serve saw Bopanna hitting the forehand volley wide which was followed by a superb first serve down the T from the Mexican to seal the opening set in 52 minutes.
The Bopanna-Van De Zandschulp pair faced six break points in the second set but dramatically saved all of them, forcing another tiebreak where the duo won four straight points from 3-all to level things up by grabbing the second set.
In a topsy-turvy match tiebreak, world no. 19 Bopanna seemed to have sealed the deal with an imperious crosscourt forehand winner, bisecting his Dutch teammate and Reyes-Varela at the net to find the open court and earn a match point. The advantage vanished in the next rally, with Bopanna sending a crosscourt backhand volley from the net wide.
The Indo-Mexican pair stole victory from the jaws of defeat with a crosscourt overhead smash from Ramkumar, followed by a powerful second serve from Reyes-Varela.
The duo will face top seeds and US champions - Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury - who defeated the Argentine-Venezuelan pair of Sebastian Baez and Luis Martinez 6-3, 7-6 (1) in their opening-round fixture.
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Bopanna wasn’t the only Indian at the receiving end of a heartbreaking loss as the all-Indian pair of Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni, despite being a set and a break up, eventually went down 7-6 (1), 5-7, [7-10] to third seeds Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul from France.
Earlier in the day, N. Sriram Balaji and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, who got entry as alternates, defeated wildcard pair of Purav Raja and Divij Sharan 6-4, 6-3 in an all-Indian encounter.
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