India’s top singles player Ramkumar Ramanathan today recorded the biggest win of his nascent singles career – a stunning straight-set 6-3-6-2 victory over world No 8 Dominic Thiem in the pre-quarter finals of the Antalya Open here. The unheralded Ramkumar ranked 222 in the world, brushed aside the Austrian challenge in only 59 minutes to make it to the last eight of the USD 439,000 prize-money tournament. This was his first ever victory over a top-10 player in the ATP rankings. He will face veteran Cyprus star Marcos Baghdatis in the quarter-final. “I worked really hard for this win,” Ramanathan said after the match. “I thank the crowd for coming out and cheering. I like the grass courts. Courts are fast. I took my chances and it worked out. I am having a great time here and thanks to the organisers,” he added. It was in the eighth game of the second set that the 22-year-old Chennai lad served an ace to finish the match.
There was no celebration as he calmly touched the court and shook hands with this year’s French Open semi-finalist Thiem. “What an exciting win for @ramkumar1994 .. beating a top 10 player should give him a lot of self-belief on what he could be capable of,” India’s Davis Cup captain Mahesh Bhupathi tweeted after the sensational win. The tournament has seen a remarkable turnaround from Ramkumar after an unimpressive start to the season that was dogged by poor form. The strapping Ramkumar hit 10 booming aces and converted three break points, while Thiem only had one chance to break the Indian, which he failed to convert. The biggest advantage was Ramkumar winning 90 percent points on his first serve, with 28 out of the 31 points going in his favour.
This was comparatively more than Thiem’s 73 percent. The percentage points on second serves were 56 compared to 44 from Thiem. Coming in as a qualifier into the event, Ramanathan had earlier beaten Brazil’s Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-3 6-4 in the first round. Ramkumar, however, could not make it to the Wimbledon qualifiers, the cut-off date for which ended on June 25. (PTI)