Ramkumar Ramanathan lost to Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri 7-6(6), 6(5)-7, 3-6 in the second round of the Tata Open Maharashtra.
Ramkumar Ramanathan—who was India’s last remaining represent in the singles category— went down fighting in his second round match of the Tata Open Maharashtra here on Wednesday. He lost to fourth seed Malek Jaziri 7-6(6), 6(5)-7, 3-6 in a match that lasted close to three hours and extended into the wee hours of Thursday morning.
The Indian put himself into a commanding position early in the first set by breaking Jaziri’s serve to take a 2-0 lead. The Tunisian came back fast by breaking Ramanathan’s serve in the next game to make it 2-1.
The following games saw both the players put in big serving games, including a love hold for Ramanathan in the seventh game. Leading 4-3, World No.132—with unforced errors coming back to haunt him—failed to capitalise on a double fault by Jaziri as the Tunisian made it 4-4 with.
Another opportunity to break Jaziri went begging in the 12th game for Ramanathan as Jaziri held his serve to force the first set into a tie-breaker.
Ramanathan got off to a flying start by taking a 4-1 lead only to be brought back level by the fourth seed. Jaziri had a chance to seal the set at 6-5, but he squandered the chance as Ramanthan won the next three points to take the tie-breaker 8-6 with the first set.
The second set involved an intense exchange of strong service games. Ramanathan played his best service games in the set, while Jaziri—who blew hot-and-cold with his serves—struggled to get them right from the AD court. He was put under immense pressure in Game three when Ramanathan had two opportunities to break him, but he bailed himself out with an inch-perfect backhand slicing winner and an ace.
Ramananthan, on the other hand, continued being the aggressor. His ploy of pushing the 34-year-old Tunisian deep with his serve and then putting the point to bed with successful approach shots worked more often than not for him. That, however, also made Ramanathan predictable he conceded numerous passing winners when he was late on the approach shots and found himself reeling in the no man’s land.
The set saw both the players hold their serves and after bottling four break points, Ramanathan rifled three aces on the trot in the 12th game to force the match into another tie-breaker.
The story was a little different this time around. The 24-year-old Indian—after a couple of mini-breaks and a three-point lead— eventually went down 7-5 in the tie-break as Jaziri forced the match into a deciding third set.
Having played for over two hours already, the fatigue started to get the better of the players. It all came down to who was able to survive for longer. The unforced errors started to creeping into both the players’ games.
Both the players held their serves until the fourth game, before World No. 45 broke Ramanathan’s serve in the fifth. The fate of the match had been sealed as the youngster started crumbling in the dying stages of the match, conceding two more break points in the four games. After toiling for 2 hours and 46 minutes on a cold night in Pune, Malek Jaziri bagged the third set 6-3 and advanced to the next round.
He will face Belgium’s Steve Darcis in the next round—who also took over three hours to beat American Micahel Mmoh in a three-setter encounter.
Day 3 Results
- Malek Jaziri bt. Ramkumar Ramanathan 7-6(6), 6(5)-7, 3-6
- Gilles Simon bt. Illya Ivashka 6(3)-7, 6-1, 6-1
- Kevin Anderson bt. Laslo Dere 7-6(3), 7-6(6)
- Steve Darcis bt. Michael Mmoh 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2; Jaume Munar bt. Simone Bolelli 7-5, 6-0
- Benoit Paire bt. Jiri Vesely 6-4, 6-2
- Ivo Karlovic bt. Evgeny Donskoy 6-4, 7-5
- Ernests Gulbis bt. Hyeon Chung 7-6(2), 6-2.
- Luke Bambridge and Jonny O’Mara bt. Sriram Balaji and Arjun Kadhe 7-6(5), 6-1
- Marcel Granollers and Gerard Granollers bt. Denys Molchanov and Igor Zelenay 6-4, 6(3)-7, 10-6.
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