Making his Davis Cup debut in the Asia Oceania Group 1 tie against South Korea this week, Ramkumar Ramanathan is leaving no stone unturned in what could be a dream weekend for him.
Training alongside Rohan Bopanna and Saketh Myneni at the Chandigarh Club courts, the 21-year-old knows what it takes to give India the edge in the tie. “I have been training with Bopanna and Saketh for the last two days and I need to keep believing in my abilities. Serve will be the key and am focusing on that. The grasscourts are playing fast so the Koreans, who play mostly on synthetic courts, won’t find it easy. They will play neutral tennis and rely heavily on long rallies,” Ramkumar, who created ripples by making the Chennai Open quarterfinals earlier this year, told HT on Tuesday.
Ramkumar first hit the headlines when he qualified for the main draw of the 2014 Chennai Open, and ousted then India No 1 Somdev Devvarman in the first round. He was in the Davis Cup reserves before, but has made the team for the first time.
Asked if there were jitters, Ramkumar sounded calm. “It is a dream come true to be representing your country and playing alongside Paes and Bopanna. I have been playing with Bopanna in Wimbledon so have a good rapport with him. The plan is to play to the strength and not to think about anything else.”
Ramkumar has played a lot in Spain (Barcelona) in recent years in Challengers. He thinks the exposure has fine-tuned his game. Currently ranked 217 in the world, Ramkumar also draws inspiration from Paes, who made his debut in Davis Cup at 17.
“Paes has been an icon for many. It would be amazing to have him in the same team. It would be wonderful to start the tie with a win and grab home advantage,” said Ramkumar, who was brought up in Chennai.
Known for their big serve, Saketh and Ramkumar have to share the responsibility in singles while in doubles it will be Bopanna and Paes.