Pune, Jan 3:
Ramkumar Ramanathan’s serve deserted him at crunch moment as he missed out on a memorable win against world number 45 Malek Jaziri and crashed out of the Tata Open Maharashtra.
Staying solid on his service games was key to Ramkumar’s fight but he served four consecutive double faults across two games to lose 7-6(6), 6-7, 3-6 after battling hard for two hours and 46 minutes late Wednesday night.
India’s singles challenge ended with Ramkumar’s defeat. After winning the first set, Ramkumar squandered three break points in the second set, allowing the fourth seed Tunisian to claw his way back in the match.
Despite serving much better than Jaziri, the 24-year-old from Chennai ended up on the wrong side Jaziri, who beat then world number 4 Grigor Dimitrov and world number seven Marin Cilic in the 2018 season, struggled with his first serve as Ramkumar’s unrelenting returns made it difficult for him.
Beating world number eight Dominic Thiem at Antalya Open in 2017 remains the major highlight of Ramkumar’s career.
By reaching the final of Hall of Fame Open in Newport last year, the 24-year-old showed that he could perform at the ATP 250 level but lacked consistency.
Jaziri will next take on comeback-man Steve Darcis, who beat talented American youngster Michael Mmoh 4-6 7-6(4) 6-2 in his second-round.