India’s 20-year wait for a men’s singles tennis title could end on Sunday as rising tennis star Ramkumar Ramanathan takes on USA’s Steve Johnson in the final of the Hall of Fame Open at Newport.
By reaching the final of the event, Ramkumar became the first Indian in seven years to reach a tour-level final on the singles circuit. The last Indian to reach the final was Somdev Devvarman, who lost to Kevin Anderson in Johannesburg in 2011. Devvarman was also beaten in the 2009 Chennai Open final by Marin Cilic.
23-year-old Ramkumar, who hails from Chennai, defeated Tim Smyczek 6-4, 7-5 to reach the final and stands on the verge of a historic title.
“I was serving well and I just hung in there. I didn’t have the greatest first set on return, but I found a groove. He’s a really tricky opponent, especially on these courts. I’m pretty happy to get through,” he was quoted as saying by ATP.
Ramkumar is ranked 161 in the world and now has a chance to emulate a feat last accomplished by Leander Paes, who won the Hall of Fame Open in Newport in 1998. Paes is also a mentor to the youngster. Along the way, the youngster has scalped big names, including American Denis Kudla and Canadian Vasek Pospisil.
Ramkumar is expected to rise significantly in the ranks regardless of the result of the final.
While Ramkumar has reached the final in impressive fashion having not dropped a single set along the way, he meets Johnson who has also had an almost flawless tournament. Johnson defeated Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-3 in the semi-final.
Ramkumar, however, has history on his side as both Leander Paes and Vijay Amritraj have in the past won the title at Newport. Amritraj won the title in 1976, 1980 and 1984.