Ramkumar Ramanathan faced two massive prospects going into his first round at Cincinnati Masters on Monday night – playing on Centre Court against a young Christopher Eubanks from the United States.
Following Gael Monfils’ pullout and an already depleted field in Ohio, Ramanathan was drawn into the main draw as the lucky loser. And he didn’t let the occassion get the better of him by defeating Eubanks in come-from-behind 6-7, 6-1, 6-4 win in a match lasting an hour and 47 minutes.
Ramkumar became the first Indian since Somdev Devvarman in 2013 to register a singles victory in an ATP Masters event.
Ramkumar had entered the qualifiers and won his opening round against Dusan Lajovic but couldn’t overcome Maximilian Marterer of Germany in the next ground. However, lady luck shone brightly on him with Monfils pulling out with illness and sending him into the main draw to face fellow qualifier Eubanks.
The 180th ranked Indian made the most of his big serve and gutsy serve-and-volley approach, even in the final game where he saved a break point, to edge Eubanks in a closely contested match. In the decisive game, as Ramanathan served at 5-4, Eubanks had a little chance to break but missed his backhand by a whisker with fellow India player Rohan Bopanna looking on in attendance. Ramkumar held firm to close out the match just a few points later with a court opening volley and then gently pushed the ball into vacant court to soak in the momentous win. He will next face the winner of Jared Donaldson and Roberto Bautista Agut.
Ramkumar made the most of his good service returns and aggressive player in the second set to break Eubanks in a row in the second set to win five straight games. The first set remained on serve throughout with both players remaining firm.
He will meet either American Jared Donaldson or Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round
This isn’t the first time Ramanathan has made inroads in the main draw of an ATP event. In Antalya, in June, the player from Chennai had beaten Dominic Thiem on grass to reach the quarterfinals.