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03 December 2023

Ramanathan aims to end India's 20-year title drought in Newport


Ramkumar Ramanathan will try to add to India's record of success in the ATP tournament at Newport when he takes on third-seeded Steve Johnson in the final on Sunday.

Ramanathan, ranked 161st in the world, defeated American Tim Smyczek 6-4, 7-5 in a battle of first-time semi-finalists on the grass court of Newport, Rhode Island.

America's Johnson, seeking a fourth career title and a second of 2018 after his clay court win in Houston, defeated Spain's Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-3.

The 48th-ranked Johnson didn't face a break point in his 69-minute victory over Granollers, a former top-20 player who was playing in his first ATP semi-final since 2015 and in his first tour-level main draw since Barcelona in April.

Johnson broke Granollers in the final game, sealing the win on his second match point when the Spaniard fired a forehand long.

"Just happy to get another win," Johnson said. "(I) would've liked to capitalize on a few more of those break points in the end of the first set and the second. But I was pleased with my serving and glad to get it done in that last game."

Johnson will be a heavy favorite in Sunday's final, which has been moved up to 11 a.m. (1500 GMT) because of inclement weather forecast for the area.

But Ramanathan, the first Indian player to reach an ATP singles final since Somdev Devvarman lost to Kevin Anderson in the 2011 championship match in Johannesburg, can perhaps take heart from past Indian successes in Newport.

The 23-year-old's title tilt comes 20 years after doubles great -- and Ramanathan boyhood hero -- Leander Paes claimed the only ATP singles title of his career at Newport -- the most recent singles title for any Indian on the tour.

And India's Vijay Amritraj lifted the trophy in Newport in 1976, 1980 and 1984.