Bengaluru, November 9: There is some good news for the tennis fans in the city, as the Garden City gears up to host the Bengaluru Open, an ATP Challenger event at the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association (KSLTA) here from November 20-25.
The tournament, with a purse of $100,000, is the richest prize-money Challenger event in Southern Asia and it will come as a big boost for the players in the country as a lot of ranking points will be up for grabs.
The logo of the tournament was unveiled by minister for Fisheries and Youth Services and Sports Pramodh Madhwaraj and minister for tourism, IT, BT, Science & Technology Priyank Kharge on Wednesday (November 9) at the KSLTA.
The Bengaluru leg, which will be the final stop of the five-legged ATP sojourn in Asia, with Vietnam hosting two, China and Pune conducting one each, would be a draw of 32 with 22 players getting direct entry, while there would be four wildcards, as many qualifiers and two from special exempted category.
World No.99 Blaz Kavcic of Slovakia has been given the top billing.
Amongst the Indians, Yuki Bhambri is the highest-ranked player (139). Yuki along with Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Ramkumar Ramanathan, all of whom are part of the Davis Cup team, have made it to the main draw.
Other Indians who will look to leave a mark include Sumit Nagal, Saketh Myneni, Sriram Balaji, Divij Sharan and Vishnu Vardhan. The Karnataka challenge will be spearheaded by Mysuru lads Suraj R Prabodh and Prajwal Dev.
Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali hailed the importance of the event, stating that it is a much needed boost for the players in the country.
"I was very happy when I heard about this event. India lacks Challenger tournaments. A $100,000 event is a big boost. Tournaments like this is a huge platform. A few more Challenger tournaments like this will help bridge the gap for the Indian players. It's not that our players don't have the talent to be ranked in the top 100. There're no opportunities.
"Being the Davis Cup coach we've always talked about the lack of Challenger tournaments in the country and its the lack of these events which don't allow the players to reach the top rankings. With a few more tournaments like this our players will get the opportunity to pick up ranking points. It'll help them to get closer to the top 100. They need more events like this," said Ali.
Meanwhile, Saketh, who is returning from injury, will use this opportunity to get back on the circuit. "It's great that Bangalore is going to have a tournament again and its great for the fans too. Its' a big opportunity for the Indian players to have a home tournament. Moreover the tournament will put Bangalore on the tennis map again.
"For me its a great opportunity to be back on the circuit. It's been a long season. I've been out for six months. I've been trying to work hard both on and off the field and trying to get my rhythm back. It's great to have a tournament at home and I will use the event to get my confidence back and will try to get back where I left off," said Myneni.
AITA Vice-President and KSLTA Secretary CS Sundar Raj, said, "Our hope is that over the next two years we'll consistently have Challenger events. We're are looking forward to our youngsters performing on the home ground. When you play on the home ground you tend to do better. We hope the players take back happy memories."
With players from more than 20 countries, the tournament is sure to garner a lot of attention from both fans and the players."