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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

Tennis

Ramkumar collapses, concedes match to Somdev
Deepti Patwardhan, Hindustan Times
Chennai, February 04, 2014
First Published: 22:04 IST(4/2/2014)
Last Updated: 22:19 IST(4/2/2014)

Ramkumar Ramanathan did everything he could to stay on his feet and in the match, including an underarm serve and a couple of stand-and-deliver forehand whips that left his rival, Somdev Devvarman, surprised and running for cover. But in the end, the heat of the situation got to the Chennai player, as he collapsed on the court in a heap.

Ramanathan, playing his first Challenger tournament, conceded the match at 5-7, 4-5, 40-30.

"That's not the way I wanted to finish the match," said the 19-year-old, who suffered from full body cramps and, for precaution, was carried off the court on a stretcher. "Win or lose, I wanted to play but just couldn't continue."

It was an anti-climatic end to the first round of the ATP Challenger in Chennai between Ramanathan and Devvarman. But the story till then had been fascinating.

The clash had acquired an edge as Ramanathan had pulled off the biggest upset of his pro career by beating Devvarman, India's best player, in the first round of the Chennai Open in January.

And the youngster once again gave a good account of himself. Not only is he unafraid of Devvarman's ranking and reputation, it seems like a match-up he enjoys.

Devvarman struggled to cope with the pace on his serve and he admitted his groundstrokes were sitting up for Ramanathan to take a good look and unleash the big forehand. But the 28-year-old has shored up enough experience and patience in his six years on the professional circuit to see out those phases.

The only thing flashy about Devvarman, on Monday, was his lime-green shirt. He put in a professional, no-frills performance, scratchy at times – he needed eight set points to claim the opener 7-5 – but enough to get the job done.

"Physically, I was feeling good," said Devvarman. "The most important thing when you come up with someone like him who has a big serve is to return well and hope you get some neutral rallies.

"He didn't let me do that a lot in the beginning. He's a tricky guy to play against. It is unfortunate it had to finish this way."

But through to the second round, Devvarman next takes on qualifier Michael Venus.

Indian results: 1-Somdev Devvarman bt Ramkumar Ramanathan 7-5, 5-4 (retd), Michael Venus bt Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan 6-7(3), 7-6 (1), 6-1; 7-Yuki Bhambri bt Liang-Chi Huang 6-2, 6-4; Saketh Myneni bt Mohamed Safwat 6-4, 6-2; Sanam Singh bt 6- David Guez 6-4, 7-5; N Sriram Balaji bt Prajnesh Gunneswaran 6-3, 6-3


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