Egged on by a partisan Indian crowd, Ramkumar Ramanathan wriggled out of a pressure match against Brydan Klein to move to the semifinals of the ATP Challenger tournament in Binghamton.
The 21-year-old Indian battled past his British opponent 7-6(5) 6-7(3) 6-2 and booked a last-four berth in the USD 50,000 hard court event.
After an intense battle in the first two sets, Ramkumar broke early in the third and staved off three break points in the second game to pull away. That lead stayed with him throughout and he served out the match in the seventh.
It took 214-ranked Ramkumar two hours and 36 minutes to subdue his opponent, ranked 260 in the ATP singles list.
“I played a good match today. I served well. Throughout the match I was fighting, I was aggressive. It was good to get the first tie-break, the second one slipped. I missed a smash on an important point in the second set tie-break,” Ramkumar told PTI.
“I started with a break in the third. I was down 0-40 in the second but I held. That was a big game for me. I got another in the middle of the set and finished it off at 5-2.”
Playing away from home, tennis players hardly get fan support but Ramkumar surprisingly found a few Indians in the stand cheering for him.
“There were a few college students and professors form the Binghamton University. It was nice to have a few Indian people, cheering for me. I am playing Kruber tomorrow and I hope to do well,” Ramkumar said.
The Indian next faces American Mitchell Krueger, ranked 267, who reached the semi-finals after defeating Japanese Hiroki Moriya 6-3 7-6(6).