Tennis

Ramanathan, Raja look to keep Indian hopes resolute at Tata Open

With the rest of the locals out of the hunt, India’s hopes will rest squarely on the doubles pair of Ramkumar Ramanathan and Purav Raja’s shoulders on Saturday.

By Sandeep Banerjee ·

With a breezy 6-2, 6-1 win over Indian tennis legend Leander Paes and his Australian partner Matthew Ebden at the Mahalunge Balewadi Stadium in Pune, the Indian pairing of Ramkumar Ramanathan and Purav Raja kept their hopes alive in the Tata Open Maharashtra.

Playing aggressively throughout the games, and not sparing any opportunity for their opponents to score points, Ramkumar Ramanathan and Purav Raja won the doubles match easily in straight sets.

It brought to an end another one of Olympic bronze medalist and eight-time Grand Slam doubles champion Leander Paes’ stints on his farewell tour but the 1996 Olympic medalist was gracious in defeat as always.

“I lost against two Indians; it was a good match,” Leander Paes, who will be next seen in action at the Davis Cup in March, said after the match. “I played an ordinary game.”

“The things worked in Ramanathan-Raja's favour right from the first breakpoint as they played extremely well,” the eight-time Grand Slam doubles champion said after the match.

2020 Summer Olympics at the back of the mind

The All India Tennis Association (AITA) are yet to announce India’s doubles pairing for the Tokyo Olympics 2020, and while ATS rankings play an important factor in their decision, it’s not the be-all-and-end-all.

Regardless, it will no doubt be in the back of the mind of both No. 91 Purav Raja and No. 129 Ramkumar Ramanathan as they hope to propel themselves up the ATS doubles rankings with success in the Tata Open Maharashtra.

Opponents chomping at the bit

Ramkumar Ramanathan and Purav Raja will now take on the third-seeded duo of 2008 Australian doubles winner Jonathan Erlich and Andrei Vasilevski of Belarus in the semi-final on Saturday.

The Israeli-Belarusian duo last competed together in the Canberra Challenger in January, where they lost 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 to the local pairing of Max Purcell and Luke Saville in the final. And that close defeat will no doubt be tingling their itch to make it to the final at the Tata Open Maharashtra.

The partnership of Indian tennis players Ramkumar Ramanathan and Purav Raja, however, also has positive energy working for them.

It was in Pune where the duo last played together, when they won the 2019 Pune Challenger in November, edging out fellow countrymen Saketh Myneni and Arjun Kadhe 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.

Doubles success offset singles wipeout for India

Ramkumar Ramanathan and Purav Raja’s perseverance has no doubt helped stoke Indian hopes at the prestigious event billed as South Asia's only ATP Tour tournament, following a string of setbacks for the Indian contingent.

While he has redeemed himself in the doubles fight so far, Ramkumar Ramanathan himself was part of those setbacks when he was knocked out of singles contention in the Tata Open Maharashtra round of 32 on Monday.

It kicked off a series of exits that led to a complete wipeout for the Indian singles contingent.

The third time did not turn out to be the charm for Prajnesh Gunneswaran. A round of 16 loss meant an early exit from the Tata Open Maharashtra for the third year in a row for the 30-year-old.

While at the other end of the experience spectrum, Sasi Kumar Mukund's debut ATP Tour match ended in a round of 32 defeat, coming on the heels of more exits by such notables as Sumit Nagal, Arjun Kadhe and Ramkumar Ramanathan.

India’s doubles pairs held out a bit longer in comparison, as Rohan Bopanna and Arjun Kadhe's Tata Open Maharashtra aspirations came to an end on Thursday after they lost a hard-fought battle against the French pair of Antoine Hoang and Bruno Paire, while Divij Sharan and Kiwi partner Artem Sitak were eliminated in the round of 16 on Tuesday.

Where to watch the Tata Open Maharashta

For the first time ever, an ATP Tour event will be covered live on the Olympic Channel! Tune in to our official Facebook page for a live stream* of the semi-final and final matches of the Tata Open Maharashtra.

Coverage will also be available on Star Select HD2 as well as the Hotstar app.

*Available for residents of India only.