Greatest moments in Indian sport: No. 19. Ramanathan Krishnan reaches Wimbledon last four

Top 20: Moment 19 (2:14)

Top 20: Moment 19 (2:14)

The story till then

In 1954, Ramanathan Krishnan became one of the earliest heroes of a young nation when he won the boys' title at Wimbledon as a 17-year-old. Trained by his father, a tennis player himself, Krishnan made rapid strides in the senior divisions soon after that triumph. As a practitioner of "touch tennis" he wowed the world. He also led India to some memorable moments in the Davis Cup.

The moment
Krishnan arrived at the 1960 Wimbledon championships as the No. 7 seed. He constructed a memorable run and went all the way to the semi-final, where he was beaten by the eventual champion, Neale Fraser, who avenged his loss to Krishnan at the 1959 Queen's Club Championship, played ahead of the Wimbledon championships, with a straight-sets victory.

Krishnan won the first two rounds at Wimbledon after being stretched to five sets in both. Another five-setter took him into the quarter-finals, where he beat Chilean star Luis Ayala, the fourth seed, in straight sets.

The reaction
"I made the mistake of admiring my opponents. I started appreciating their good shots. In today's professionalism, they would laugh at it. On one side I was happy I had made the semi-finals, but two to three years later, I realised I am not going there again."
- Ramanathan Krishnan

Expert view
"Ramanathan Krishnan was a deceptive and clever player who could beat you with deft touch and uncanny placement. Both he and his son, Ramesh, have enriched me and given me abiding pleasure."
- Roy Emerson, 12-time Grand Slam champion

The story since
Krishnan made the semi-finals at Wimbledon again in 1961, losing to the eventual champion again, this time the great Australian Rod Laver. On his way to the last four, Krishnan overcame another contemporary great, Roy Emerson. He was fourth seed at the championships the following year, but missed out due to an ankle injury. In 1966, he led India to their first Davis Cup finals, where they lost to Australia. Krishnan retired in 1968, but played a crucial role in his son Ramesh's successful professional career in the 1980s.

Recommended reading
A Touch of Tennis - The Story of a Tennis Family by Nirmal Shekar