As a tennis nation, India is best remembered for giving the world the Amritraj brothers-Vijay and Anand. Once they were done with their playing careers, India was lucky to have found another great talent in Leander Paes, who has almost single-handedly, carried a nation's expectations on his shoulders for a quarter of a century.
But just like in a movie, sport also requires a few supporting characters, whose achievements are as significant as any other, but who always seem to go under the radar. If in the case of Paes, it was people like Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna. It was Ramesh Krishnan during Amritraj’s time.
Born in Madras in 1961, Krishnan's achievements on the tennis court are no less significant or memorable as compared to any other player during that era. He played the game for 13 years from 1979 to 1992 and won many crucial tournaments during the course of his career.
His most favoured surface was the hard courts, which is evident from the fact that he reached the quarter-final stage of the 1981 and 1987 US Open. He also reached the third round of the Australian Open on five occasions.
However, despite not progressing to a Grand Slam final in his career, Krishnan won eight singles titles and had a career ranking in singles as high as 23. The interesting thing about those titles was that he won them across the globe from New Zealand to Japan to the United States to Germany.
Seven out of those eight titles were won on hard courts while the other one was won on clay.
He became the junior Wimbledon champion in 1979 defeating David Siegler 6-0 6-2 in the final. He also won the junior French open that year.
Those performances helped him develop as a player and he reached the quarter-final of the US Open in 1981. Grand Slam wise, the next 5 years weren't the best for Krishnan. However, one could say these were his best years with respect to his Singles career. He won Manila Open in 1981, the Stuttgart Open in 1982 and won three titles in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Schenectady in 1986.
His contribution to Indian tennis
He also reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 1986, where he was defeated by Eric Jelen of Germany.The following year, he reached the fourth round at the US Open. However, possibly the best moment of his career came two years later when he beat the then World No.1 Mats Wilander in the second round of the Australian Open. He was part of the Indian Davis Cup team that lost to Sweden in 1987, but played a crucial role in the team reaching the final when he won the decisive rubber against Australia.
His good form in '89 continued when he went on to win ATP Auckland Open and reached the quarter-final stage of Schenectady Open, New York Open and the Washington D.C Open. He went on to win in Schenectady the following year, where he beat Kelly Evernden of Australia 6-1, 6-1 in the final and reached the semi-finals of Heineken Open that year.
Among other things, Krishnan could also never win an Olympic medal. The closest he came to winning it was in Barcelona where he partnered Leander Paes to the quarter-final.
However, despite that one can't ignore his contribution and Indian tennis would certainly benefit if they utilise his vast experience.