Chennai: Ramkumar Ramanathan was on the verge of making history on Sunday when he faced Steve Johnson in the final of an ATP 250 event — Hall of Fame tennis championship at Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
He was trying to become the first Indian in 20 years to win an ATP event, but eventually fell short against the much higher-ranked Johnson, going down in three sets.
Speaking to The Hindu from Newport, Ramkumar said: “It has been a special week for me and nothing can buy this moment. I had a tough few weeks coming in and I am really happy, especially with the way I handled pressure.”
He came into the tournament on the back of four first-round exits and the runner-up finish here boosted his ranking as he moved 46 places to 115, his previous best.
While the 23-year old has produced some big upsets like the one against Dominic Thiem last year in Turkey, consistency in a tournament has somewhat eluded him and Ramkumar feels he is on the right track, especially after this week.
“At the ATP level, the matches are very close but the hard work I have been putting in, and with the help of my parents and Emilio Sanchez, things are falling in place.”
On the final and whether he felt he could have done any better, the Chennai player said, “maybe at the start of the third set, I could have been more focussed on holding my serve. These are small things I could improve.”
The last Indian to win an ATP singles title was Leander Paes, incidentally at the same tournament and Ramkumar felt the Indian doubles legend’s presence helped him a lot during the week.
“Before the match against (David) Kudla, there was a small wind blowing and he gave me tips to serve out wide on the deuce court. Small things like these make a huge difference. More importantly, the fact that he was there seeing my matches also puts pressure on my opponents knowing a legend like Paes is on my side,” Ramkumar felt.
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