Ramkumar Ramanathan is currently enjoying a breakout year. The year began with a stunning win over India’s Somdev Devvarman at the Chennai Open and saw him capture five ITF Futures singles titles. The latest of these wins came one week back at Raipur on his birthday.
The 20-year-old tennis sensation ended 2013 ranked 526. Now he is ranked 300 places higher at 227 and is currently India’s No. 2 singles’ player. He is also part of Vijay Amritraj’s Champions Tennis League where he will be playing for the Bangalore Raptors. The rising star is keen to make the most of this experience playing alongside established stars.
In an exclusive interview with Sports Rediscovered, Ramkumar Ramanathan talks about his wins this year, his training at the renowned Sanchez-Casal Academy, his dream of playing the Grand Slam qualifiers and of course sharing the court with the likes of Venus Williams, Feliciano Lopez and Thomas Enqvist. Excerpts from the interview –
SR: Congratulations on winning the Raipur ITF Futures title. It must be a special feeling to win on your birthday?
Ramkumar: Thank you very much. It was a great feeling to win a tournament on my birthday. I really have to thank God Almighty for giving me a good birthday. I felt I really played well and thought I was dominating and played more aggressive which helped me. It was a special moment for me.
SR: You have won five ITF Futures singles titles this year. What, according to you, has been the biggest improvement in your game that has led to so much success this season?
Ramkumar: I think the training and the work put in at Barcelona over these last few years and some weeks this year has made me a much stronger player. It has also made me tough game-wise as well as physically.
That’s a big reason behind all these wins and of course the wins against good players regularly have given me a great amount of boost. I am really thankful to TNTA (Tamil Nadu Tennis Association) for sponsoring me and IMG also.
SR: You are now India No. 2. The way you are climbing up the rankings, Grand Slam qualifiers are just about knocking on the door for you. That must be a long-cherished dream?
Ramkumar: Well of course, it’s really a dream come true for me to be playing the Grand Slam Qualifiers. I am really happy about that and hope to do well in the Aussie Qualifiers. But this is just the starting- there’s a lot left to learn.
SR: You have said how participating in the Asian Games had been one of your goals this year. The omission from the squad must have been a bit disappointing?
Ramkumar: Yes, that’s true. As Asian Games is played once in four years, every player’s dream is to represent their country. That’s why I was a little disappointed. But anyways, I took it in good spirits and carried on with my schedule. I’ll keep working hard and hopefully, will be able to play the next one.
SR: How has your stint at Sanchez-Casal Academy helped your game?
Ramkumar: The training at Sanchez-Casal Academy under Joan Balcells and Sergio Casal has helped me a lot. The stint there has helped me improve my fitness and tennis a lot. It is about everyday workouts and being professional. The tournaments I played there have helped me to get tougher on the court and also showed me how tough the system is, over there. I got used to it after a while and I thoroughly enjoy it now. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped me out there. My fitness coach Eduardo Garcia Prat has also helped me a lot too. I would also like to thank T. Chandrasekaran who has helped me with my game from a young age in Chennai.
SR: How are you looking forward to the Champions Tennis League? Playing in the same team alongside the likes of Venus Williams, Feliciano Lopez and Thomas Enqvist must be a great learning experience?
Ramkumar: It’s good for players like us to mingle with the best in the business to gain experience. These leagues will help us. I am sure we can play well having Feliciano, Venus and Enqvist in our team and then Souwjanya (Bavisetti) and Vasisht (Cheruku) also. Hope to play well for my team.
SR: In an era where players aged around 30 or above 30 are doing so well, it is surely amazing to see youngsters like Borna Coric and Nick Kyrgios carving out their own place. Seeing fellow youngsters from your own age group being successful must be really inspiring?
Ramkumar: Yes it is great to see them playing so well. I remember the last time I played Borna in a Futures tournament in Antalya and lost a close three-setter. To see where he and Krygios are now is a great achievement. These things are healthy and motivate me to train harder and catch them soon as I think I’m not so far away. I’ll keep pushing myself harder and by God’s grace, I hope to do well in the coming season.
Sports Rediscovered thanks Ramkumar Ramanathan for finding some time to speak with us and for the interview. We wish him all the very best for his career.