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Ramanathan Krishnan (born 11 April 1937, Boothapandi Village, Nagercoil, India) 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. 6 in Lance Tingay’s amateur rankings.
Krishnan honed his skills under his father, T.K. Ramanathan a veteran Nagercoil based Player. He soon made his mark on the national circuit, sweeping all the junior titles.
In 1954, he became the first Asian player to win the boys’ singles title at Wimbledon,beating Ashley Cooper in the final. In 1959, Krishnan played in the men’s singles competition at Wimbledon losing in the third round to Alex Olmedo. Later that year, playing for India in the Davis Cup, Krishnan defeated Australia’s Rod Laver (the Wimbledon runner-up) in four sets.These performances gained Krishnan seventh seeded status at Wimbledon in 1960, he reached the semi-finals losing to the eventual champion, Neale Fraser. In 1961, Krishnan reached the Wimbledon semi-finals by beating Roy Emerson in straight sets but lost in the semis to eventual champion, Rod Laver. Krishnan received his highest seeding at Wimbledon (No. 4) in 1962 but had to withdraw mid-tournament due to an ankle injury.
Krishnan’s playing style was known as “touch tennis”. 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”. More recently, Robert Philip wrote that “each and every Krishnan rally was a thing of rare beauty”. 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”. Rafael Osuna, Nicola Pietrangeli and Krishnan’s son Ramesh were some of the other notable exponents of this style emphasizing finesse.
Krishnan received the Arjuna award in 1961, the Padma Shri in 1962 and the Padma Bhushan in 1967.
Krishnan has written, with his son Ramesh Krishnan and Nirmal Shekar, a book titled A touch of tennis: The story of a tennis family. The book covering the achievements of three generations of tennis-playing Krishnans, was released by Penguin Books India.
Krishnan now lives in Chennai, 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. On 25 July 2012, Ramanathan Krishnan re-launched India’s premier English-language weekly sports magazine, Sportstar, at a function in Chennai.Krishnan runs a tennis training center in Chennai together with his son.