The 21-year-old Ramkumar Ramanathan is fast turning into a regular fixture in India’s Davis Cup team. Ranked 206th in the world currently, Chennai-born Ramkumar is one of India’s premier singles players along with Somdev Devvarman (178th) and Saketh Myneni (143rd). Ramkumar is part of the Indian team which is taking on Spain in the Davis Cup World Group playoffs from September 16th to 18th and was slated to battle Rafael Nadal before the Spaniard withdrew because of an upset stomach.
Though he lost against Feliciano Lopez, it was not before taking a set off his acclaimed opponent. Egged on by an expectant crowd in New Delhi, he displayed a lot of grit in the 4-6 4-6 6-3 1-6 loss in two hours and 26 minutes. Though Ramkumar has not qualified for the main draw of any Grand Slam, he has been making waves in the ITF Futures events. Last year alone, he played 12 Futures tournaments and won four of them.
He’s still young and is slowly shifting his focus to ATP events. The wiry lad from Chennai can only keep learning and it looks like he will be an asset for India in the coming years. Let’s take a look at some interesting facts about Ramkumar Ramanathan.
5) Announced himself by beating Devvarman
Ramanathan came into the collective conscience of Indian tennis fans when he beat then Indian No.1 Somdev Devvarman in the first round of the Chennai Open in 2014. What was remarkable about the win was the fact that he was just 19 and was competing in his first ever ATP event. He also had come through to the main draw after progressing in the qualifiers and it proved his mettle as a competitor.
That part of his mentality was highlighted by his comeback after losing the first set in the match. Ramkumar used the victory as a launchpad to improve his ranking which was languishing outside the top-300 to reach to come close to 200.
4) First ITF title in Raipur
Precisely a month before he stunned Devvarman in Chennai, Ramkumar Ramanathan won his first ITF Futures title at Raipur by beating Lee Duck Hee of Korea 3-6, 7-6, 6-4. Not only was it his first major step in professional tennis, but also a defining match. He saved a match point en route to the win, accentuating his fighting mentality and asserted himself as a bright prospect in Indian tennis.
He has had reasonable success in the Futures and Challenger circuit ever since and is slowly competing more in ATP events.
3) Based in Barcelona and admires Roger Federer
Though he is from Chennai, he trains at the prestigious Sanchez-Casal Tennis Academy in Spain, on the very courts Andy Murray once graced. He has been frequenting the academy ever since 2010 and the improvements to his fitness regimen and the technical aspects of his game can be attributed to the Spanish academy. He is coached by Joan Balcells, who happens to be one of his idols, and Sergio Casal in Spain and Thyagarajan Chandrasekaran (one of Leander Paes’ first coaches) in India.
17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer is Ramanathan’s favourite player and who can blame him.
2) Integral part of the Bangalore Raptors team in CTL
Ramkumar Ramanathan was a part of the Bangalore Raptors team that featured stars like Thomas Enqvist, Feliciano Lopez and Venus Williams in the Champions Tennis League (CTL) in 2014. The league was a brainchild of the Indian Davis Cup captain Anand Amritraj, intended to provide much-needed exposure for young Indian players. In fact, Ramkumar made full use of that chance and impressed in the tournament.
With a good serve and a terrific forehand, he became the youngest active player in the first edition of the CTL. TO put it in perspective, all the other young Indian players were part of the travelling, non-playing contingent of other teams.
1) Economics student and passionate about cricket
Ramkumar’s parents are in the textile business and the 21-year-old is studying for a B.A. in Economics at Loyola College, Chennai, when he is not participating in tennis tournaments. But he admits that if he hadn’t become a tennis player, he would have probably taken up a career in cricket. Unsurprisingly, his favourite tournament is the Chennai Open and he feels hard courts and clay courts suit his style better.
Ramakumar Ramanathan is also a self-confessed fan of Spanish football champions FC Barcelona.