All or nothing for Ramkumar Ramanathan

Ramkumar RamanathanRamkumar Ramanathan had beaten Somdev Devvarman in the first round of the Chennai Open (PTI)

Ramkumar Ramanathan didn't possess a second serve on Thursday. In this warm Chennai everning, he just preferred to thunder in two firsts everytime. The bizarre tactic worked at times, taking his opponent, the 38th ranked Marcel Granollers, by more shock than surprise. But at other instances, such as the first point of the second set, it didn't.

Having lost the first set 6-2 due to poor approaches to the net, the 19-year old qualifier decided to go for broke. Ramkumar's first serve, whizzing at 194 kmph, missed the target by a metre. He decided to challenge anyway. The chair umpire perhaps stifled a giggle. The second serve, at 199 clicks, smashed into the tape. Double fault. 0-15.

As Granollers walked over to the ad court side to begin the next point, Ramkumar decided to head towards the chairs. Mid-game no less. He dug into his kitbag, fished out a racquet, tested it against his knee and unhurriedly adjusted the strings. Granollers, looking rather amused, as the Indian then traded his drenched white shirt for a clean and dry yellow one.

Then he finally began his trot back to resume an incomplete game. But not without making a show of it — signalling the crowds to rise with his swaying hands, egging them on to make some noise. They responded, but Ramkumar didn't. Amidst loud cheers, he lost his serve on love to concede the earliest of breaks. Granollers 1, Ramkumar 0.

Granollers didn't drop a point in his first service game and just two from his next. In between, Ramkumar, never shy to play an expansive shot or two (more like four) found four winners from his second service game to get on to the second set scoreboard. Just 11 minutes into the second set, the fifth game began. At 1-3 and love-30 down on serve, a great run looked to be all but over for the boy who played and won his first ever ATP tour match earlier this week, against the best ranked Indian on the singles tour, Somdev Devvarman. But here, at this point, the boy who clearly seemed to miss the taste of winning, decided to do something drastic.

... contd.

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