Ramkumar Ramanthan came back from a set down to beat Marcel Granollers in a three-setter match. He will now face fourth seed Malek Jaziri in the next round.
World No 132, Ramkumar Ramanthan earned a hard-fought victory against Marcel Granollers to advance to the second round of the Tata Maharashtra Open here on Tuesday. After trailing by a set, he brought out the best version of himself to register a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory.
The going got tough for Ramanathan from the very beginning when Granollers broke his serve in the first game of the first set. He conceded the game due to a couple of unforced errors followed by poor execution of regulation volleys.
Aided by unforced errors from the Spaniard this time, he broke his serve to level the score. However, that was not enough to stop Granollers from attacking further, who went out with all guns blazing to bag his second break point of the match and take a 2-1 lead.
The first hold of the game came in the fourth set as Granolles exploited Ramanathan’s weak backhand to take a two-game advantage. The Indian—who also held his serve in the next— showed glimpses of brilliance throughout the set, but all his hardwork was undone by constant elementary errors at the net. He was often caught in two minds between wanting to rush to the net and staying put at the baseline.
Granolles took complete advantage of Ramanathan’s mental turmoil. His ploy of pushing Ramanathan deep with powerful forehand returns to his backhand and then racing yielded good results. The World No. 92—who was happy to allow a few passing winners— eventually sealed the first set 6-4 with a huge serve to the Indian’s forehand at set point in just 35 minutes.
Eventhough Ramanthan scored more winners, 11, as compared to Granollers 2, it was his unforced tally of 15, as opposed to the Spaniard’s 7, that hurt him the most.
With a head-to-head record of 0-2 against him, Ramanathan was in desperate need of some inspiration. Some may call it luck and some may even call it superstition, but a change of t-shirt after the first set brought a new ray of hope for the Chennai star.
Ramanathan started the second set on a more positive note. He held his serve in the first game and helped himself into the lead for the first time in the encounter with a string of vicious serves. He showed vast improvements in his first serve as it won him 83% of his points in the second set.
The sixth game of the set could have easily resulted into the match falling in Granollers’ laps when Ramanthan got into an altercation with the chair umpire. However, credit where it’s due, he did not let the pressure take a toll on him. After slicing a ball into the net during a rally, Ramkumar asked for a review claiming that the ball had landed out when he played the stroke. But the umpire refused to consider it as the Indian was late with the challenge. The 24-year-old kept insisting that the ball that was out, but the Spaniard got the point and drew level at 3-3 after winning the next two.
By this stage, Ramanathan had brought positive changes to his game. He was more confident with the backhand volleys and continued to notch up passing winners. This left Granollers baffled as the tactic that helped him win the first set was now backfiring. Eventually, Ramanathan broke the Spaniard’s serve with a forehand winner down the line in Game 10 to win the second set and force the third.
Ramanathan carried the momentum into the third set and—after breaking the Spaniard’s serve in the fourth game— raced to 4-1 in quick succession. The seventh game went to deuce thrice, but Ramanthan closed it to make it 5-2.
Serving for the match, Ramanathan started off poorly with a double fault, but quickly made up for it with a couple of forehand winners. An unforced error from his opponent gave Ramanathan the set and the match.
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