Indian singles no.1 Ramkumar Ramanathan got into the French Open doubles draw at the very last moment. But he made it count as he notched up his maiden Grand Slam win. Ramanathan, and American partner Hunter Reese, saved 13 out of 13 break points to beat the formidable German pair of Oscar Otte and Daniel Altmaier 7-6(4) 6-3.
Speaking after the match, Ramanathan shares his thoughts on the match, having support from seniors like Mirza and Bopanna, next match, and much more.
Q) You were originally entered with Sander Arends. But you ended up playing with Hunter Reese. How did that happen?
I was with Sander (Arends) initially. But last Wednesday, I got the news that Sander’s pulled out. Then I got a text from Hunter (Reese) asking if he would like to re-pair with me. Hunter was ranked 82 in the week he signed, and I was 80.
The original cutoff was 159. I went to the ATP to check what the updated cutoff was, and they said that we would need to be below 163 combined to get in. So we got in as we had 162 together. That was how it happened. Hunter’s also had a lot of success recently, including in France last week. So I thought we could play together.
Q) With doubles coming along well, is it that you are going to start playing more doubles?
No, not at all. My original focus is singles and I enjoy playing that format. I was with my coach Joan Balcells last week, and he was there with me the entire week. It’s always good to have somebody for so many years. He was the first coach when I came to Spain for training and he’s been like a role model to me.
In singles, I had a good first round match and the second one was tough, but I enjoyed it. My tennis was upto the mark and it was just a few points here and there that made the difference.
Q) Where do you go after the French Open?
Q) There is talk of no ranking points on grass. Does that affect you?
No, I always enjoy playing grass so I’m going to go either way.
Q) Does doubles help your singles game?
There’s a lot of pressure moments in doubles and it changes very quickly. You get to finish balls at the net, there’s a lot of low volleys which helps me ind singles, when I serve volley in singles.
I’ve had good success with Bops (Rohan Bopanna) and Saki (Saketh Myneni). I’ve always enjoyed playing doubles. I’ve had some good wins last few years. So I’ve always took it a serious as my singles. But obviously, if you ask me to pick one, I would pick singles.
Q) Coming back to the match, how would you review it?
Very close. Those two guys are great singles players. And it’s never easy to play them on clay. So we tried to play every point, enjoy the moment and try to focus on ourselves rather than them. We knew they were dangerous.
I was actually watching Otte play his singles match yesterday. 5 sets, he was cramping but the level of tennis was right up there. That’s where I want to be in the coming years. So it’s always nice to witness all these good matches, stay here and practise with these guys.
It’s also nice to have Bops (Bopanna) and Sania (Mirza) around. Both came to see my match. It was really nice of them. I also went for his match yesterday. All these things help in a Grand Slam. Scotty (Bopanna’s coach Scott Davidoff) was also there, which was very nice. A few of my friends also came down from New York.
Q) You’d missed out on several break points in the singles qualifying. But it was the reverse today, as you saved all 13 break points…..
That’s good. It means we did something right. We didn’t hold back for sure because there’s a thing which I told you the other day – I was a little passive against the French guy. But yeah, happy, we saved 13 because the match could have been over very fast if we didn’t. But the other way also, because they saved a lot of break points too.
It was a very, very close match and we are just happy to get the win and are looking forward to the next match.
Q) Speaking of the next match, you play the in-form Koolhof/Skupski pair…..
We are the underdogs. We have nothing to lose. So we are going to go out there and give it our all on every point. Anything can happen. We have to play the full match, it’s no single point deuce or super tie-break. They are a world class team, but we can do it if we play well.
Photos from Ramkumar’s maiden Grand Slam win: