A gutsy Ramkumar Ramanathan buried a sluggish start to eke out an inspiring win over Alexander Kudryavtsev and enter the men’s singles quarterfinals of the Chennai Open.
Wild card Ramkumar worked his way to a 3-6 6-4 6-4 win over higher-ranked Russian, who had entered the event as a Lucky Loser. He next plays world no.45 Aljaz Bedene, who defeated Luca Vanni 5-7 6-3 6-4.
The win meant that Ramkumar is now unbeaten in his last 12 matches. He had won two ITF Futures titles at the end of the 2015 season in Gwalior and Mumbai, winning five matches each in the two events.
He had shocked world number 98 Daniel Gimelo-Traver in the first round here and with win today he has entered the quarterfinals of an ATP Tour event for the first time in his career.
Ramkumar changed the complexion of the game after losing the first set with his sheer grit and doggedness. He improved as the match progressed and egged on by the fans, he managed to down a strong opponent.
The Russian had done his homework well and did not allow Ramkumar to play on his big forehand initially. He made Ramkumar run on both the flanks, often forcing the Indian to play his shots running, without getting much time to settle or get into rhythm.
“I was going too fast. I was making him play. Got the confidence through the third set. Alexander is a great player, goes for his shots. He made me run, it was not easy but I found my way,” said Ramkumar after the win.
The Russian hit an exquisite forehand service return winner in the first point of the fifth game. Ramkumar struggled with his footwork and two consecutive forehand errors cost him the game. Ramkumar had the chance to return the favour in the next game but lost four points on the trot when the Russian was down 15-40.
The lucky loser kept dictating the points with Ramkumar struggling to get his rhythm and confidence. Serving to stay in the set, Ramkumar committed another error to be down by a set point and hit a cross court backhand wide to hand Kudryavtsev the first set.
Ramkumar could not hit the ball deep, continuously finding the middle of the court from where it was hard to trouble his opponent.
Kudryavtsev was clear with his game plan, hitting everything on Ramkumar’s weak backhand and his strategy paid off. The 21-year-old Indian could only keep the ball in play and could never direct the ball to where he would have wanted.
Nevertheless, Ramkumar was all pumped up, never lacking in energy but could not put his game together. The Russian kept his cool and demeanour as he went about his business calmly.