Mumbai, November 13: Former world no. 2, Vera Zvonareva of Russia, is among the star attractions in the 125,000 USD WTA L and T Mumbai Open Tennis to be held at the Cricket Club of India's courts here from November 18-26.
The 33-year-old Zvonareva, bronze medal winner at the 2008 Beijing Games and singles runner-up at Wimbledon and US Open in 2010 - the best year of her career - was racked by injuries in 2012 to slip down the rankings and then missed the entire 2013 season due to a shoulder surgery.
"She is on a comeback trail this year after giving birth to a child," said Sunder Iyer, secretary of the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association which is organising the event in association with the Maharashtra government.
Among other top players who will be seen in the main draw of 32 are 19-year-old Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, the world no. 78 who will head the seedings, and former world no 12 Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium who is currently ranked 112th, it was announced at a media conference on Monday (November 13).
Also in the fray would be world no. 105 Zhu Lin of China, no. 117 Arina Rodionova of Russia, no. 120 Naomi Brady of Britain, no.132 Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia, no.136 Jasmine Paolini of Italy and Lizette Faith Cabrera of Australia who is ranked 137.
Four Indian players would be given wild cards in the main draw and two more in the qualifying stage. The front runners among the host country's players for gaining direct entry into the main draw as wild cards are Karman Kaur Thandi, the current India no. 1, former no.1 Ankita Raina, host state's no. 1 Rutuja Bhosale and world junior no. 18 Zeel Desai, it was announced.
Chairperson of the organising committee, Amruta Fadnavis, said that the tournament would enable the Indian girls to improve their rankings. "Indian girls are progressing in women's tennis rankings and this tournament would provide the much-needed platform to take them to the next stage," she told reporters.
According to tournament director Prashant Sutar, the women's singles winner will get USD 20,000 and 160 WTA points while the losing finalist will receive USD 11,000 and 95 points. There would be a doubles event too with the winners taking home USD 5,500 and 160 points and runners-up USD 2,700 and 95 points.
CCI would be hosting a big tennis event for the first time since 2007 when it last hosted an ATP Tour event. The qualifiers would be held on November 18 and 19 while the main draw matches are to commence on November 20. Matches will commence at 2:30 pm on the first three days and at 4:00 pm thereafter.