Ramkumar Ramanathan, the first Indian to reach an ATP final since Somdev Devvarman’s loss back in 2011, lost to Steve Johnson in the Hall of Fame Classic grass-court tournament in Newport, Rhode Island on Sunday. For the past twenty years, no Indian has ever won an ATP Tour final.
The 161st ranked Ramanathan had reached the final of Italy’s Recanati Challenger and USA’s Winnetka Challenger prior to this but had lost both of them, and the trend continued in Newport. However, Ramanathan’s recent form and a loss in the ATP final (third in a final) meant that he would potentially climb up the ranking ladder by 46 places to a career-best of 115.
The third-seeded American beat the first time finalist 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 in a rain-delayed final, to win his career’s fourth ATP title and second of the season. The match lasted an hour and 59 minutes. On the other hand, the 23-year-old was better on serve throughout the tournament with his service games being broken just four times before the final. The Indian fired 10 aces in the final but gave up two easy breaks that eventually proved to be costly.
Talking about his performance after the match Ramkumar sounded confident stating that he will work harder and win the title next year. “I am going to keep working hard and will give my best. Will win the title next time,” he said.
India’s Davis Cup Coach, Zeeshan Ali has asserted that having two high-ranked players, Yuki Bhambri and Ramanathan, will give the Indian team a psychological boost and spoke about Ramanathan’s growth as a player. In April, Bhambri had broken into the top 100 for the second time in his career.
“To have two high-ranked players is a huge psychological boost for the Indian team. I feel Indian tennis is headed towards the right direction now. Two strong singles players allows us to put pressure on the opponents,” said Ali.
“He (Ramanathan) has started playing a lot more serve and volleys of late. It is good to see him developing such skills. We knew that he had that talent but needed the correct exposure. Now that he has stepped on the stage, I feel he will get the boost and start believing in himself.”
Johnson, who won the first set 7-5, received a treatment in the second set for a sore shoulder. After his win, he was all praise for the Indian’s serving skills.
“I fell on the ground in an awkward position which stung a bit. He came out and served great. I was happy to grab the opportunity in the first set and eventually got the lead to win the match,” he said.
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