What next for Ramkumar?

The 21-year-old Indian, who will gain 45 points for reaching his first-ever ATP-250 event quarterfinal and make a considerable jump from his current ranking of 248, felt he was getting stronger mentally. "I am able to handle pressure better now and if I continue to progress this way, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t get into the top-50 in two to three years’ time," said Ramkumar.

Ramkumar Ramanathan... aiming big.   -  R. Ragu

Ramkumar Ramanathan, buoyed by his career-best showing at the Chennai Open, has set his targets higher: break into the top-50 in the next few years.

The 21-year-old Indian, who will gain 45 points for reaching his first-ever ATP-250 event quarterfinal and make a considerable jump from his current ranking of 248, felt he was getting stronger mentally. “I am able to handle pressure better now and if I continue to progress this way, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t get into the top-50 in two to three years’ time,” said Ramkumar.

“I am working on my serve and backhand with coach Juan Balcells. I am also training hard to become stronger physically. Even against (Aljaz) Bedene, I did my best and gave it my all. I am sure the results will come my way soon.”

Would love to play for India

Asked whether he would be keen to represent India in the Davis Cup, Ramkumar said: “I would love to play for the country, but I haven’t spoken to Anand (Amritraj) about it yet.”

About his plans for the year, he said: “I will focus on the Challengers to improve my rankings. I will also be playing in the Australian Open qualifiers. Let’s see how it goes.”

Indian tennis legend Ramesh Krishnan, who watched Ramkumar play his heart out before bowing out in the last-eight stage, was impressed by the performance. “It was a tight match and could have gone either way. It will boost his confidence and he will get better if he keeps competing against the top players.”

Going by his display in Chennai, the training stints in Barcelona seem to be paying dividends for Ramkumar and he looks ready to reach the next level.

Praise from Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka certainly thinks so. “He’s playing really well this year. He has a big forehand, is moving well on the court and fighting for every point,” said the Swiss when asked about Ramkumar.

“He has the right attitude and is pushing himself. If he continues to play that well, he can definitely improve his rankings.”