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‘Pairing with Bopanna was destined. The vibe was unbelievable and we played some unreal tennis’: Ramkumar Ramanathan

After ending 2021 with a maiden singles Challenger title in Manama before making the quarters in Challenger event in Antalya, Ramkumar Ramanathan had chalked out his plan for the next year – “to focus on singles”. But 2022 had other plans. He started the year like no other season, winning his maiden ATP Tour title in the doubles category. Pairing up with Rohan Bopanna, Ramkumar lifted the men’s doubles title in Adelaide defeating top seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo in the final. A month later, the same pair added another trophy to their cabinet, at the ATP Maharashtra Open and later picked up a doubles title at home in a Challenger event with Saketh Myeni. The victories saw him attain a career-high doubles ranking of 94 and Ramkumar eventually ended the year with an impressive ranking of 69, having reached three other finals.

As for his plan at the start of 2022, Ramkumar admitted to having had a “tough year in singles”. He did not make the finals in any of the singles events this year with his best performance being a quarterfinal finish at Challenger events in Japan and France. However, Ramkumar remains optimistic of his chances next year and hopes to pair up with Bopanna again.

Speaking to Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview ahead of the start of Pro Tennis League in New Delhi on Thursday, where Ramkumar would be playing for Bangalore Challengers, the 28-year-old talked about the tournament, his 2022 season, partnership with Bopanna and targets for the next season.


You have been in the Pro Tennis League since 2019. What makes this tournament different from some of the few other such leagues happening in the country or those which India have had in the past?

Aditya Khanna (Co-founder of PTL) has taken initiative to do this for all the players. I know how tough it is to put this league and get all the players in. And obviously, with all the respect we have for Aditya and all the other players. It’s good fun as well and we are all happy to be here.

These league-style tennis events, do you see a lot of these happening in the future? And what do you make of such events in a packed calendar year?

To be honest, no. This is just for fun. I think we are all playing seriously, but at the same time it’s just 20 points and we don’t do this in a normal tournament. It’s just something which we have at the end of a year where we can get some good competition, all the players get in and we want to win for a team and share our experience with the junior players, that’s the basic idea.

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Coming to your 2022 season. Started the year with a maiden ATP Tour title, mixed results in singles. Now when you look back, what do you make of it?

Actually, I’m quite happy because I wasn’t injured all year. I could play the entire year without an injury. Yes I did have some tough losses. But I’m happy that I am 17 in doubles which is one of the goals at the start of this year, to get into the top 100. Just to take the positives, I think, I’m still feeling good and am physically fit and sharp. And I’m looking forward to next year.

Tell me about the partnership with Rohan Bopanna. You two had played just one Davis Cup doubles match together.

I think it was destined. There was no plan for it. We just played in Adelaide because Édouard Roger-Vasselin didn’t play. In Pune, I was supposed to play with another player, but then changed it because I won Adelaide. Then again we won in Pune after being match point down. I guess the vibe was unbelievable. The support from the crowd was amazing and we also managed to play some unreal tennis.

I would love to play with Bopanna next year as and when he can. We are still in good touch. He’s a great guy and he helps tennis, has his own academy and he is bringing up tennis for the juniors and all levels. I have a lot of respect for him.

Ramkumar Ramanathan with his maiden singles Challenger title in Manama(ATP)

You had a mix of partners throughout 2022. Most were doubles specialists. You played alongside Alexei Popyrin, a singles specialist, in one of the events. How do you adjust to their playing style?

Nothing as such because I’m basically playing more singles and depending on the tournament I go I just pick my doubles partner and hence it’s all last moment. Basically, I wasn’t looking much into doubles this year because singles is my main focus. Yes I had a tough year in singles but I’m looking forward to having a great next year.

Chennai hosted a WTA event this year after a long long time. But Vijay Amritraj wants to host an ATP tournament as well from next season. Your reaction?

I hope we can pull up some good ATP tournaments which will benefit the Indian players. Obviously they are doing a Challenger in February. I think we have the home advantage and all Indians should make good points.

More ATP events in India or more ITFs and Challengers is the way forward?

ATP ideally, but Challengers to start with.

Your goals for 2023 season

Stay healthy. I enjoy what I do, which is the main thing. I just need to keep working hard and put in the work because you never know when you crack it. I’m just hoping and praying for the best.

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