| Pune |
Published: February 2, 2020 12:10:34 am
The hoardings outdoors the Balewadi Tennis Stadium in Pune inform the story in pictures. In the previous two years that the venue has hosted India’s only ATP 250 event, the Tata Open Maharashtra, these billboards depicted photos of Marin Cilic and Kevin Anderson, who had been then world no. 6 on the 2018 and 2019 editions respectively. This 12 months, the large posters have photos of some of the extra iconic areas of Maharashtra.
But this was not a end result of some administrative goof-up. It is a end result of a change in the ATP schedule that left the match with none star sights.
Ever because the begin of the match in its former host metropolis Chennai, it was performed as a season-opener and attracted high stars – the likes of Carlos Moya, Patrick Rafter, three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, and even a sure Rafael Nadal. It was a super pit-stop for the highest weapons from Europe on their option to the Australian Open. The ATP Cup this 12 months, nonetheless, compelled the Tata Open to be pushed again by a month. And since it’s being performed in the week between the 12 months’s first Grand Slam match and the ATP 500 event at Rotterdam in the Netherlands, the large names have shied away.
“Players have been in Australia for a month, under tough circumstances and probably want to go back home (to Europe),” says Sunder Iyer, honorary secretary of the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA), the hosts for the match. “The (tennis) circuit now moves to Europe. Montpellier this week and Rotterdam next. So it’s much easier to go back to Europe and start playing.”
The inaugural ATP Cup, held in the primary week of January – a spot the Indian Open loved for years – meant that the majority of the highest 10 on the boys’s tour descended upon Australia, with no intention of stopping by at Pune on the return journey. That makes this the primary time since 2003 that the Indian ATP match has not had a present high 10 participant in the line-up – Argentina’s Guillermo Canas, the then world no. 15, was the highest seed 17 years again.
With the February slot, Pune’s chief competitors is the ATP 250 in Montpellier. Both tournaments have related prize cash – Pune has a handbag of $610,010 and the French event $672,702. But the geographical proximity of Montpellier to Rotterdam has helped it appeal to high names. While the likes of world no. 10 Gael Monfils, no. 11 David Goffin, Denis Shapovalov (13) and Grigor Dimitrov (20) have chosen to go to France, Pune’s high seed is world no. 21 Benoit Paire – the only high 50 participant in the draw.
The depleted subject, although, has benefitted the Indians. The nation’s high two ranked gamers Prajnesh Gunneswaran (123) and Sumit Nagal (131) made the primary draw on benefit, and wild playing cards had been handed to compatriots Ramkumar Ramanthan (184), Sasikumar Mukund (266) and native lad Arjun Kadhe (617).
“It’s a standalone tournament and nobody is (using it) to prepare for Australia,” says Prajnesh. “But it’s good for the Indians because it gives us an opportunity to make the most of it. Hopefully a few of us, or maybe all of us, can win a few rounds and points and use it as a springboard.”
The change in schedule might have affected the match’s line-up, however it was a selection between now and September, when the international contingent might have been even worse as a result of the tour would have been on its South American swing, and Pune would nonetheless be experiencing monsoons.
“In this week, we are going to be meeting with Alison Lee (executive vice- president of the ATP International Group),” match director Prashant Sutar says. “We will be raising the issue that Asian tennis needs to be revamped. We will strongly take it up.”
But whereas that assembly takes place, 5 Indians will compete in the primary draw of their dwelling ATP match for the primary time. And with a depleted subject standing in the way in which, there’s a murmur of a number of upsets in the offing. Maybe even an Indian going all the way in which to the title. “Why not? It can be done,” Prajnesh provides.
Paes will get wild card
In probably his final look in a match in India, veteran Leander Paes has been given a wild card to enter the doubles draw, alongside along with his Australian accomplice Matthew Ebden. The duo will tackle India’s Divij Sharan and New Zealand’s Artem Sitak in the primary spherical. Meanwhile Rohan Bopanna will group up with Arjun Kadhe (additionally wild card entrants), and Purav Raja and Ramkumar Ramanathan will type a second all-Indian group.
Indians’ singles draw: Prajnesh Gunneswaran vs Yannick Maden (Germany, rank 125); Sumit Nagal v qualifier; Ramkumar Ramanathan vs Salvatore Caruso (Italy, rank 95); Sasikumar Mukund vs Taro Daniel (Japan, rank 110); Arjun Kadhe vs Jiri Vesely (Czech Republic, rank 109).