Ramkumar Ramanathan is back at his happy hunting ground – the Newport Hall Of Fame Championships. Ramanathan had made the final here in 2018, his only tour level final. He started his qualifying campaign with a straight sets win over Barbados’ Darian King, and will take on American Mitchell Krueger for a spot in the main draw.

Mr. Himanshu Bhagat caught up with Ramanathan after his round one win in the qualifying. Excerpts below:

Q) You were a runner-up here in 2018 and reached round 2 in 2019. This time we would love to see you better the 2018 result. Any change in strategy / approach this year?

Nothing, I mean it’s a fresh year. I am glad I made the finals few years back. But that’s the past, I have to start from scratch. I am happy with my first match today. With my friends and family here it was a good feeling to play. I enjoy playing on grass so I am just looking forward to the next match.

Q) Last year there was hardly any tennis action because of COVID-19. How has that impacted your preparations for this year? Any impact?

Last year there was no action but we could at least practice for a while in India when I was in Chennai with the Junior boys like Manish, Abhinav, with the guys who are coming up. So it was not too bad; but of course we did miss the tour for about 6 months. As soon as the tour started with French Open I started playing for 2-3 months straight. This is what we love, we have to compete.

Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND) in action against Marc Polmans (AUS) on Court 8 during the Gentlemen’s Qualifying Singles at Qualifying at The Bank of England Sports Centre, Roehampton. The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day -4 Thursday 24/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/David Gray

Q) You qualified and reached Round 2 at Nottingham Challenger and also reached Qualifying finals at Wimbledon last month, both were grass tournaments. How did that help with your preparations for Newport?

Obviously it makes a big impact because you are coming from a grass tournament. You know how the things are, how the conditions are, what you need to focus on, on the weak points. It actually is a good thing. Like when you play French Open you play 3 or 4 weeks before on clay. So it was good last 3-4 weeks on grass. Just looking forward to it.

Q) You are participating in Doubles this year with Aisam Qureshi. How did this partnership come about?

We were in Wimbledon, I was signing for the “lucky losers” in singles and I got into the mixed with Ankita. We were there and he was looking for a partner; I am glad it worked out. I am happy he was here for my match. That’s really nice of him, he is a great person.  It’s going to be fun, I am going to give it all.

Q) Balancing between singles and doubles must be tough. How do you manage it?

I have been playing singles and doubles for a lot of years. By God’s grace I am fit so I have been able to hold up.

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