The first Indian fairytale at the 2014 Aircel Chennai Open was written a good one hour before the first Indian took to the court in the main draw.

Nineteen-year-old R. Ramkumar made it through the qualifying stages, defeating Slovakian Norbert Gombos 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-3 in the final round, to set-up a first round match against Somdev Devvarman.

“It was a close match from the start,” said Ramkumar. “It was just a matter of couple of points here and there. I played a good tie-break in the first set. Second set was a bit bad and I got broken. In the third I was just trying for everything and played a good last game to finish it off.”

After splitting the first two sets, the Tamil Nadu lad was quickly off to a 3-0 lead in the third. There were to be no signs of nerves as he went for the lines. The attempts paid off as he routinely caught his opponent off guard.

Ramkumar had enough energy to run down every ball, with one particular shot drawing a huge applause from understandably partisan crowd. Down 2-5, Gombos was serving to stay in the match when Ramkumar made an outrageous stretch and lobbed the ball over Gombos who was left stranded after he had started charging to the net.

Clinical execution

His last game was clinical. “Point by point,” said coach Nandan Bal, sitting on the sidelines. An overhead smash, a return sent long by his opponent and a kick-serve ace got him to match point. These were interjected by glances towards the coach which were in turn reciprocated with nods of approval. Ramkumar then put away an easy volley to clinch the tie.

This will be Ramkumar’s first appearance in the main draw after having failed on two earlier occasions.

Qualifying results: Final round: R. Ramkumar bt Norbert Gombos (Svk) 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-3; Alexander Kudryavtsev (Rus) bt Frederick Nielsen (Den) 6-4, 6-4; Henri Laaksonen (Sui) bt Illya Marchenko (Ukr) 4-6, 6-3, 7-5; Radu Albot (Mda) bt Philipp Oswald (Aut) 6-3, 6-4.

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