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Ramanathan Krishnan

Ramanathan Krishnan
Ramanathan Krishnan and Ramesh Krishnan with Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Dr. M.S. Gill in New Delhi, 2009.
Country (sports) India
ResidenceMadras, India
Born (1937-04-11) 11 April 1937 (age 87)
Nagercoil, British India[1][2]
Turned pro1953 (ILTF World Circuit)
PlaysRight-handed (one-handed backhand)
Career record512–176 (74.4%)[3]
Career titles69[3]
Highest rankingNo. 3[4]
Grand Slam singles results
French OpenQF (1962)
WimbledonSF (1960, 1961)
US Open3R (1957, 1959)
Grand Slam doubles results
WimbledonQF (1955, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1965, 1967)
Team competitions
Davis CupF (1956, 1959, 1962, 1963, 1966Ch, 1968)

Ramanathan Krishnan (born 11 April 1937)[1][5][2] is a retired tennis player from India who was among the world's leading players in the 1950s and 1960s. He was twice a semifinalist at Wimbledon in 1960 and 1961, reaching as high as World No. 3 in Potter's amateur rankings.[4] He led India to the Challenge Round of the 1966 Davis Cup against Australia and was the non playing captain when Vijay Amritraj and Anand Amritraj[6] led India into the 1974 Davis Cup finals against South Africa.[7] He was active from 1953 to 1975 and won 69 singles titles.[3]

Tennis career


Krishnan honed his skills under his father, T. K. Ramanathan, a veteran Nagercoil[2] based player. He soon made his mark on the national circuit, sweeping all the junior titles. He as a 13-year-old school student sought and got special permission from the Principal Gordon of Loyola College to take part in the Bertram Tournament open only to college students and won it in 1951.[8][9] Krishnan qualified for 1953 Wimbledon and reached final of Boys' singles title losing to Billy Knight. Later he joined and as a student of Loyola College won Junior Wimbledon in 1954.[10] In 1954, he became the first Asian player to win the boys' singles title at Wimbledon,[11] beating Ashley Cooper in the final.



In 1957, Krishnan reached the singles final at the Northern Lawn Tennis Championships at Manchester, defeating Roy Emerson and Robert Bédard, but losing the final to Lew Hoad in straight sets. Krishnan reached the final at the Canadian Open in 1957, losing a close final to Bédard, whom Krishnan had beaten several times in Britain that season.


Krishnan would win the Northern Lawn Tennis Championships tournament in 1958, which included a close match win over Rod Laver. The same year he also won the Aix-Les-Bains International Tournament against Patricio Rodríguez.


In 1959, Krishnan won the Queen's Club Championships title, defeating both Alex Olmedo and Neale Fraser in the final two rounds. He played in the men's singles competition at the 1959 Wimbledon losing in the third round to Olmedo. Krishnan rejected a record three-year $150,000 guarantee offer from Jack Kramer in 1959 after winning at Queen's Club.[12][13] Later that same year, playing for India in the Davis Cup, Krishnan defeated Laver (the Wimbledon runner-up) in four sets.[14] Krishnan also defeated Laver at the 1959 Pacific Southwest tournament in three straight sets. Krishnan won the 1959 U.S. Hard Court Championships in Denver with wins over Gardnar Mulloy in the semifinal and Whitney Reed in three straight sets in the final. Krishnan ranked World No. 3 in Potter's annual rankings for 1959 in World Tennis.[4]


These performances gained Krishnan seventh seeded status at Wimbledon in 1960, where he reached the semi-finals losing to the eventual champion Fraser.[15] Krishnan defeated Andrés Gimeno in five sets on his way to the semifinal.[16][17] Instead of Krishnan, Kramer signed Gimeno after Wimbledon for a much smaller guarantee than Krishnan had been offered.


Krishnan won the 1961 Wiesbaden tennis tournament, including a win over Wilhelm Bungert. In 1961, Krishnan again reached the Wimbledon semi-finals by beating Emerson in straight sets in the quarter-finals but lost in the semis to eventual champion Laver. The following season, he reached the quarterfinals at the French Open in 1962, where he led Emerson two sets to one, but strangely lost the fifth set at love. Krishnan received his highest seeding at Wimbledon at No. 4 in 1962 but had to withdraw after three matches due to an ongoing ankle injury.[18]


Krishnan won the 1963 Antwerp International Championships tournament on red clay with a four-set win in the final over Nicola Pietrangeli. Krishnan won the 1965 River Oaks International Tennis Tournament at Houston, Texas with wins over Osuna, Emerson in the semi-final in four sets, and Richey in the final in four sets. He was reportedly given a winner's hug of congratulations by future President George H. W. Bush after the victory.[19] In 1967 Krishnan won the Antwerp International Championships on red clay a second time by beating Emerson in the final in three straight sets. He won the National Lawn Tennis Championships of India a record eight times,[20] and reached ten finals.

Registered professional

Krishnan, like Emerson, Stolle, Santana, Okker and other prominent "amateur" tennis players, became a registered professional with a national tennis association. He was under contract to his national tennis association, and not to an independent professional tour, and was therefore eligible to represent India in Davis Cup competition, but also received money earnings in designated tournaments approved by his national association.

Open era

Krishnan won the Canadian Open[21][22] in 1968 over Torben Ulrich in the final. Krishnan lost to John Newcombe at the inaugural U.S. Open that year. However, Krishnan had a notable win over the hard-hitting Clark Graebner, a semifinalist at the 1968 U.S. Open, in Davis Cup play later that season, in which Graebner "was completely befuddled by the junk-balling tactics of Krishnan...losing decisively."[23] Also that year, Krishnan won the Stuttgart tournament on red clay, which included a win over Jürgen Fassbender. After 1968, Krishnan played sporadically. Krishnan's last tournament was a first round loss at Calcutta in 1975 to Tom Gorman.[24]

Davis Cup

Krishnan was a key member of the Indian team. In 1961, Krishnan had singles wins over both Chuck McKinley (Wimbledon finalist in 1961) and Whitney Reed (U.S. No. 1 for 1961), although India lost the tie 3 to 2. Krishnan led the India team to the Challenge Round of the Davis Cup in 1966, whilst also reaching the Inter-Zonal final with the team on five other occasions, in 1956, 1959, 1962, 1963 and 1968. India surprised West Germany in the inter-zonal semi-finals with Krishnan beating Wilhelm Bungert (a Wimbledon finalist later that year). At Calcutta, in the semi-finals against Brazil, the two sides won two matches each and it all came down to Krishnan's match against the Brazilian champion, Thomaz Koch. Koch was leading two sets to one and was up 5–2 in the fourth set when Krishnan staged one of the most memorable comebacks by winning the set 7–5 and then the match. In the final against Australia, Krishnan and Jaidip Mukerjea won the doubles rubber (against John Newcombe and Tony Roche), but Krishnan lost both singles matches (against Fred Stolle and Roy Emerson) as India were defeated 4–1.[25] Krishnan was a regular player on the Indian Davis Cup team between 1953 and 1975, compiling a 69–28 winning record (50–19 in singles and 19–9 in doubles).[26]

Junior Grand Slam finals

Singles: 2 (1 win – 1 loss)

Result Year Tournament Surface Opponent Score
Loss 1953 Wimbledon Grass United Kingdom Billy Knight 5–7, 4–6
Win 1954 Wimbledon Grass Australia Ashley Cooper 6–2, 7–5

Style of play

Krishnan's playing style was known as "touch tennis".[27] Critics hailed Krishnan as a marvel, Lance Tingay of The Daily Telegraph described his tennis as "pure oriental charm" while another described his style as "Eastern magic".[28] More recently, Robert Philip wrote that "each and every Krishnan rally was a thing of rare beauty".[29] According to veteran sports journalist C.V. Narsimhan, "His service was never a powerful weapon, he did not have any powerful groundstrokes either. He won with consistency, angled volleys, and a graceful half volley drop shot now and then".[28] Rafael Osuna, Nicola Pietrangeli and Krishnan's son Ramesh were some of the other notable exponents of this style, emphasizing finesse.[30]


Krishnan received the Arjuna award in 1961, the Padma Shri in 1962 and the Padma Bhushan in 1967.[31]


Krishnan has written, with his son Ramesh Krishnan and Nirmal Shekar, a book titled A touch of tennis: The story of a tennis family.[32] The book covering the achievements of three generations of tennis-playing Krishnans, was released by Penguin Books India.[33]


Krishnan now lives in Chennai,[34] where he manages a gas distribution agency. Ramesh Krishnan emulated his father's achievement of winning the Wimbledon junior title, and went on to become a leading Indian tennis player in the 1980s.[citation needed] On 25 July 2012, Ramanathan Krishnan re-launched India's premier English-language weekly sports magazine, Sportstar, at a function in Chennai.[35][better source needed] Krishnan runs a tennis training center in Chennai together with his son.[36]

Career highlights

  • 1954 – Wimbledon – junior champion
  • 1958 – Northern Championships champion – won close match over Laver
  • 1959 – Queen's Club Championships champion – defeated Olmedo and Fraser
  • 1959 – U.S. Hard Court Championships champion – defeated Reed and Mulloy
  • 1959 – Pacific Southwest Championships runner-up- defeated Laver and lost final to Emerson
  • 1960 – Wimbledon – seeded seventh, defeated Gimeno and reached the semi-finals (losing to eventual champion Neale Fraser)
  • 1961 – Wimbledon – seeded seventh, defeated Emerson and reached the semi-finals for the second consecutive time (losing to eventual champion Rod Laver)
  • 1963 – Antwerp International champion – defeated Pietrangeli in four set final
  • 1965 – River Oaks International Tennis Championships champion – defeated Osuna, Emerson in four sets, and Richey in four sets
  • 1966 – member of the Indian team which reached the final of the Davis Cup (lost to Australia in the final)
  • 1967 – Antwerp International champion – defeated Emerson in final in three straight sets
  • 1968 – Canadian Open champion – defeated Torben Ulrich in final

Grand Slam tournament performance timeline

(W) winner; (F) finalist; (SF) semifinalist; (QF) quarterfinalist; (#R) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; (RR) round-robin stage; (Q#) qualification round; (DNQ) did not qualify; (A) absent; (NH) not held; (SR) strike rate (events won / competed); (W–L) win–loss record.


Tournament 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 SR
French Open A 1R A A 3R 2R A A A QF A A 4R A 3R 1R 0 / 7
Wimbledon 1R 3R 3R 3R 2R 4R 3R SF SF 3R 4R A 3R A 1R 1R 0 / 14
US Open A A A A 3R A 3R A A A A A A A A 2R 0 / 3
Win–loss 0–1 2–2 2–1 2–1 5–3 4–2 4–2 5–1 5–1 6–0 3–0 0–0 5–2 0–0 2–2 1–3 0 / 24


Tournament 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968
Wimbledon 1R QF 3R 2R QF QF 1R QF 2R 2R A QF A QF 1R


  1. ^ a b "Complex to Get Ramanathan Krishnan's Name". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  2. ^ a b c ""Tennis centre named after Ramanathan Krishnan"". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 7 May 2015. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  3. ^ a b c "Players:Krishnan, Ramanathan". The Tennis Base. Madrid: Tennismem SL. Retrieved 29 September 2023.
  4. ^ a b c Potter, Edward C. (November 1959). "The World's First Ten of 1959". World Tennis. Vol. 7, no. 6. New York. p. 30.
  5. ^ ""Tennis centre named after Ramanathan Krishnan"". The Hindu. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  6. ^ Dave Seminara (28 November 2009). "The Year the Davis Cup Felt Empty". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  7. ^ "South Africa v India". Davis Cup. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  8. ^ "Ramanathan Krishnan – Ace tennis player who made world sit up and take notice". Venkatesh Ramakrishnan. DTNext. 23 May 2021. Archived from the original on 24 May 2021. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  9. ^ "His 'oriental' volleys turned heads towards Indian tennis". The Times of India. 12 April 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  10. ^ "Off The Cuff". Harmony India. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  11. ^ "Harmony magazine Feb 2005". 15 August 1947. Archived from the original on 28 March 2013.
  12. ^ Thyagarajan, S. (14 September 2009). "Jack Kramer, a wonderful human being: Ramanathan Krishnan". The Hindu. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  13. ^ Chakravarthi, Goutham. "Remembering Jack Kramer: Tennis' Most Significant Figure". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  14. ^ "Sports Illustrated Aug 24,1959". Sports Illustrated. 24 August 1959.
  15. ^ "Ramanathan Krishnan". 20 August 2010. Archived from the original on 20 August 2010. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  16. ^ "When the grass was greenest for Ramanathan Krishnan in 1960 Wimbledon". The Indian Express. 1 July 2020. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  17. ^ "...In the second round, Krishnan faced Gimeno. He lost the first set and was down 0-3 in the second when he noticed people starting to walk out of the stadium. "I had lost to Gimeno at Queens a week back. So people thought this was going to be over soon", he says. "That's when I tried to draw inspiration from my doubles match and from the 1959 season which was very good for me. I started to fight back and won each of the next 12 games". He closed out the five-set contest against the Spaniard..."
  18. ^ Majumdar, Boria; Mangan, J. A. (10 February 2005). Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present. Routledge. p. 123. ISBN 9780415359535. Retrieved 10 February 2022 – via Google Books.
  19. ^ "Ramanathan Krishnan Thread". 5 March 2005. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  20. ^ "History". aitatennis. New Delhi, India: All India Tennis Association. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  21. ^ "Nevada State Journal, 19 August 1968". 19 August 1968.
  22. ^ "Rogers Cup".
  23. ^ Chapin, Kim. "Reaching for the Davis Cup". Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  24. ^ "Ramanathan Krishnan".
  25. ^ "The never-say-die Krish: Sportsstar weekly Sep 9,2006". 9 September 2006.
  26. ^ "Davis Cup Record".
  27. ^ "Krish". Retrieved 10 February 2022 – via YouTube.
  28. ^ a b "Ramanathan Krishnan". 14 February 2018. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  29. ^ French Open (June 2007). "The Daily Telegraph Jan 1, 2007". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  30. ^ Paul Bailey (8 January 2006). "Paul Bailey in Observer Sports Monthly January 8, 2006". The Guardian.
  31. ^ "Tennis as sweetness: Sportstar Jan 28,2006". 28 January 2006. Archived from the original on 24 October 2007. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  32. ^ [1] [dead link]
  33. ^ Ramanathan; Krishnan, Ramesh (April 2003). Google books. Penguin Books India. ISBN 9780140287097.
  34. ^ "Pride of Chennai – A list of people that make Chennai proud". Itz Chennai. January 2012. Archived from the original on 8 November 2014. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  35. ^ "Ramanathan Krishnan launches new-look Sportstar". The Hindu. 27 July 2012.
  36. ^ "Krishnan Tennis Centre". Retrieved 23 June 2016.
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Ramanathan Krishnan
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