Debutant Ramkumar puts India ahead 1-0 vs Korea

Chandigarh,  (PTI) Youngster Ramkumar Ramanathan made a winning Davis Cup debut with a hard-fought victory over Seong Chan Hong in the opening singles as India took a 1-0 lead in the Asia/Oceania Group-I tie, here on Friday.

After battling for two hours and 36 minutes, the 21-year-old Ramkumar, ranked 217 in ATP singles list, was serving for the match when Hong suffered a thigh injury and conceded the match.

Ramkumar was leading 6-3 2-6 6-3 6-5 (15-15) when Hong suddenly clenched his right thigh, grimacing in pain. It brought a sudden end to the match, taking a bit of sheen out of Ramkumar's victory at the Chandigarh Club.

The hot and humid conditions coupled with a tough surface took a toll on the Korean. Saketh Myneni will now play against Yong-Kyu Lim in the second singles.

The persistent showers that lashed the city, also affected the grass courts as it was a bit soggy from the outset.

It was a dry but dead at the centre court where the ball hardly rose above knee level.

It prevented the match from rising to a quality level.

There was no pace at all and mere keeping the ball in the court was a struggle for the players. The sun was not exactly blazing but the humidity made the playing conditions more challenging and the Korean was clearly wilting.

Ramkumar, who relied mostly on backhand slice, was also struggling but he broke the Korean in the seventh game when Hong netted a backhand and the Indian converted the breakpoint with a trademark inside out forehand winner.

The 21-year old Indian tried to up pace with his serve but that resulted in four double faults. Despite so many errors, Ramkumar managed to hold and broke Hong in the next game to sit pretty at 5-3.

Ramkumar hardly approached the net and kept hitting backhand slices for his returns from the back of the court.

Hong capitalized a bit on that by hitting a few unreachable drop volleys but could not stop Ramkumar from serving out the set in the ninth game.

The Korean fared better in the second set, well aided by Ramukmar's unrelenting unforced errors. A double break -1st and fifth games -- put Hong ahead 4-1.




PTI

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