“The main goal was to compete for every point. I tried my best” – Ramkumar, after running former US Open champ Marin Cilic close

After a set of two close matches, India find themselves 2-0 down after the first day’s play against Croatia, with an uphill task of winning three matches on the trot on Saturday, starting with the doubles. Results below –

Rubber 1 – Borna Gojo(CRO) beat Prajnesh Gunneswaran(IND) 3-6 6-4 6-2
Rubber 2- Marin Cilic(CRO) beat Ramkumar Ramanathan(IND) 7-6(8) 7-6(8)

The Indian team ahead of the start of the tie

Transcripts from post-match interviews and photos of Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Ramkumar Ramanathan and non-playing captain Rohit Rajpal below –

Prajnesh Gunneswaran –

Q) You had won the first set comfortably breaking twice. What do you think changed in the second set ?

Prajnesh : It was a very huge first service game in the second set. I had a lot of errors in that game. I wasn’t mentally tough enough in that game and let that go. That kind of opened the door for him a little bit. He served better, I played a little bit worse and then the second set kind of ran away.

Q)  Gojo was playing more freely in the second set and thereafter. You may have faced these situations in the past where players play freely and just go for their shots. How do you face these kinds of situations? 

Prajnesh : I think that’s always going to be there. The guys who are ranked much higher tend to feel a bit more pressure than the underdog. I think that’s something you just have to learn how to deal with. If I play someone who is 20 or 30 in the world I may have done that as well. So, its my job to make sure that that pressure doesn’t get the better of me. Like in the initial stages, how I did in the first set. In the second set, in the first couple of games if I had kept my composure, I think you can always settle in a bit more. If I had played my usual tennis, I would’ve had more chances than I did.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran during the match

Q) Do you think the home support for Gojo played a part in the match?

Prajnesh : No, I came in expecting the home crowd to be behind him and it didn’t really bother me honestly. 

Q) What kind of prospects do you see for India now going forward in this tie?

Prajnesh : Definitely tough, now that I let that first match go. But, anything can happen in Davis Cup.

Ramkumar Ramanathan –

Q) You had played against Marin Cilic in Pune around one and a half years ago, what was your game plan coming into this match and how did that turn out for you?

Ramkumar : When I played him two years back, it was my first time playing him. So, I didn’t know what was coming. (Today) having played him once, was an advantage for me because I saw that match and got a few inputs from there. We discussed things before the match. The main goal for me was to improve as a player, stay strong in every point and compete for every point. I think I tried my best.

Ramkumar Ramanathan during the match

Q) You seemed irritated with Marin bouncing the ball too many times before serving in the first set tiebreak. Did it have an impact on your double fault after that? 

Ramkumar : I didn’t stop because of anything. The bouncing was too much and you know it’s not fair. I didn’t expect a great champion like Marin Cilic to do that. I have all respect for him, it’s all a part of tennis, so I respect that.

Q) You were up a mini break in both the tiebreakers. Anything you could have done differently?

Ramkumar : I stuck to what I felt in those big moments, and went for my shots. The luck was not in my side, but I played my game. Both the matches were close today.

We are hoping to play a good doubles tomorrow, and then take it one match at a time. We are still in the tie.

Rohit Rajpal(non-playing captain) –

Q) How would you summarise day 1 for India?

Rohit : Our game plan to definitely have the first singles in the bag. So we were really disappointed to have lost the first singles today. It would have been a different story if we were 1-0 up, especially with the way Ramkumar played against Cilic. But full credit to (Borna) Gojo, as he played a much bigger match than we see him do on the Tour. He went for everything and rose to the occasion.

Non-playing captain Rohit Rajpal just ahead of the tie

Q) Are you hoping for a miracle now?

Rohit : Miracles happen all the time in Davis Cup and we are playing to win. We will take it one match a time. Every point was well fought and if some of the points went our way, it could have been a different story. Nonetheless, we are going to give it our best shot from here on.

Photos –

Prajnesh Gunneswaran –

Ramkumar Ramanathan –

Indian Contingent –

From left – Physio Gaurang Shukla, Physio Yash Pandey, Divij Sharan, Coach Zeeshan Ali, Mr, Sunder Iyer, Mr. Anil Dhupar
Indian Ambassador to Croatia, Mr. Arindam Bagchi (second from left in the middle row)

Indian based in the Alps region. Works for an IT firm during the weekdays und auch lernt Deutsch. On the weekends, he can be traced somewhere in the Mountains or on backpacker trips. Is a Social Worker / Activist with a deeper interest for Indian / Swiss tennis from the past year.

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