Pune, January 1
India’s singles players, who needed either wildcard entries or came through the qualifying route, will need to play out of their skin to go deep in the Tata Open Maharashtra, beginning here tomorrow.
India’s doubles players have done well at the tournament, even going the full distance in the previous editions, but no singles player has gone beyond the second round since the tournament moved from Chennai to Pune.
While Ramkumar Ramanathan made it to the singles main draw after winning both his qualifying matches, Sumit Nagal, Sasikumar Mukund and 15-year-old Manas Dhamne were handed wildcards. The Pune-born teenager is the current Asian junior champion.
Ramkumar got the better of third-seeded Italian Mattia Bellucci 6-3 7-5 in 1 hour, 30 minutes. Unfortunately, Yuki Bhambri could not qualify for the main draw after losing 1-6 4-6 to last year’s semifinalist Elias Ymer of Sweden in the second round. Prajnesh Gunneswaran had lost in the first round.
Ramkumar will lock horns with Pedro Martinez of Spain, while Dhamne will clash with American Michael Mmoh. Nagal will have to pull off something special if he has to extend his stay beyond the first round as he is up against world No. 54 Filip Krajinovic from Serbia. The 25-year-old from Haryana struggled with injuries last year. Mukund is up against Flavio Cobolli.
The top four seeds in the singles event — Major winner Marin Cilic, Botic Van De Zandschulp, Emil Ruusuvuori and Sebastian Baez — have received byes in the first round.
In the doubles, though, there will be a lot of Indian interest with a number of players competing.
Defending champions Rohan Bopanna and Ramkumar are playing with different partners and will face each other in their opening match. Bopanna has teamed up with Netherlands’ Van De Zandschulp, while Ramkumar will play alongside Mexico’s Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela.
Bhambri and Saketh Myneni have paired up and the successful combo of Divij Sharan and Purav Raja is back with a wildcard entry.
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