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Bedene triumphs in match but fearless Ramkumar wins hearts

A marauding Ramkumar Ramanathan dished out yet another commendable performance, albeit in a losing cause as he exited from Chennai Open after an intensly-fought singles quarterfinal against world number 45 Aljaz Bedene, here on Friday.

The gritty Indian youngster gave a terrific fight to a top-50 player and saved four match points before losing 7-6(5) 4-6 3-6, battling hard for two hours and 13 minutes against Britain s number two player.

“Ramkumar has made good progress. It was not easy. He was playing well and I was fighting. I was focusing on my game. It could have gone either way,” Bedene said after the match.

“I was practising with him here last year and he has made progress, specially his forehand. His serve has been superb. I was surprised,” he added.

Earlier in the evening, seeking a hat-trick of title triumph, Stanislas Wawrinka cruised into the semifinals with a straight-set 6-4 6-4 victory over Guillermo Garcia Lopez of Spain here on Friday. In the day’s other quarterfinal, third seeded Benoit Paire also scored a straight sets win, beating Italian qualifier Thomas Fabbiano 6-4 7-5 after spending 80 minutes on the court.

Nevertheless, the hero of the day was young Indian, who can hold his head high by putting up a splendid show, courtesy which he has earned crucial 45 ranking points. He beat a top-100 player and a top-200 before braving the challenge of a top-50 player.

From 248, he will surely gain many places and can even break into top-200 for the first time in his career. Ramkumar’s performance is a good news for Indian tennis, which is known to produce quality singles players with monotonic regularity like some of the top nations.

Contending Britain’s No 2 player was a task for the Indian, ranked more than 200 places below his fancied opponent.

Ramkumar, though, played fearlessly. He struck powerfully, served well and refused to be intimidated by his rival, who was a runner-up here last year.
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