The most prestigious among the tennis Grand Slam events, the Wimbledon, has always been a place where every tennis player dreams to succeed. Not everyone is able to do it, but those who have will surely tell you that there is no better feeling than making a name for yourself at this tennis event of epic proportions.
Indian tennis fans over the past couple of decades have seen quite a lot of success for the country at Wimbledon. However, it has mainly come in the doubles events and the chief orchestrators of the success have been Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi. There has not been much to cheer about at the singles events in the recent past, but that does not mean that there have never been singles success stories for India at this grand stage.
Here are 5 of the greatest performances put up by some Indian tennis legends at Wimbledon:
1. Ramanathan Krishnan (Semi-Finalist in 1960)
The first true championship material tennis player produced by India, Ramanathan Krishnan, showed exemplary class in edging out one opponent after another on course to the semi-finals in 1960. He was eventually beaten in straight sets by eventual champion and former World No. 1 Neale Fraser, but won many hearts as he became the first Indian to reach the last four stage of a Grand Slam.
However, the performance was hardly a surprise as he was seeded seventh before the start of the tournament. It easily qualifies as one of the top feats by an Indian tennis player.
2. Ramanathan Krishnan (Semi-Finalist in 1961)
The 1961 Wimbledon Championships saw Krishnan take his game to the next level as he managed to become a semi-finalist for the second time in two years. This performance can be rated a notch higher than the 1960 one mainly because of the better quality of opposition.
In the quarter-final, Ramanathan beat none other than legendary Australian tennis player Roy Emerson in straight sets to set up a clash with yet another legend of the game, Rod Laver. Although he was beaten comprehensively by Laver in the semi-finals, Krishnan’s feat remains the best by an Indian player till date at any Grand Slam, let alone Wimbledon.
3. Vijay Amritraj (Quarter-Finalist in 1973)
One of the most popular faces of Indian tennis, Vijay Amritraj, put on a great performance in the 1973 Wimbledon Championships when he reached the quarter-finals. Despite being unseeded, he proceeded to the quarters without much trouble.
He gave the eventual champion Jan Kodes a tough fight in the quarter-final losing narrowly in a five-set thriller. Amritraj won accolades from all corners for his impressive showing in the grandest tennis event of them all.
4. Vijay Amritraj (Quarter-Finalist in 1981)
Eight years later, Vijay Amritraj proved his mettle as one of the greatest tennis players produced by India when he reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals for a second time. This time too, he was unseeded prior to the start of the tournament.
He battled his way through to the quarter-final and his journey included a fighting triumph over sixth seed Brian Teacher in a five-setter. In the quarter-final, he was up against the iconic American tennis player, Jimmy Connors. It was yet another exhilarating five-set encounter and Amritraj was leading by 2-0 at one stage; but Connors brought out his A-game and cruised through the next three.
Despite the loss, it was one of India’s best performances in Grand Slam tennis.
5. Ramesh Krishnan (Quarter-Finalist in 1986)
Ramesh Krishnan, son of Indian tennis legend Ramanathan Krishnan, did his father and the entire nation proud by reaching the quarters of the 1986 Wimbledon Championships. The highlight of Krishnan’s road to the quarter-finals was an unlikely victory over sixth seed, Sweden’s Joakim Nystrom in the third round.
He tried hard in the quarters too, where he faced Slobodan Zivojinovic of Yugoslavia and took the match into the fourth set before finally succumbing. This was the last remarkable performance by an Indian player at Wimbledon.
Several Indian players over the past few years have raised hopes in singles only to falter when it matters most. However, with constant improvements happening in the tennis infrastructure in the country, we may not be far from finding another champion player.