Mumbai, Jan 29: India’s Sumit Nagal joined compatriot Prajnesh Gunneswaran in the main draw at the upcoming third edition of Tata Open Maharashtra as first time in history two Indian players received direct entries at South Asia’s only ATP Tour tournament which is scheduled to take place at Mhalunge Balewadi stadium in Pune from February 3 to 9.
Nagal, who was initially placed in the alternative list, made cut into the 20-size main draw list. Earlier India No. 1 Prajnesh made his way into the main draw following withdrawal of Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak.
Joining Prajnesh and Nagal in the main draw will be Davis Cupper and South Asian Games gold medallist Ramkumar Ramanathan who has been awarded a wildcard entry. The announcement was made during a press conference at Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA), Cooperage in Wednesday in presence of Tournament Director Prashant Sutar, Treasurer Sanjay Khandare and MSLTA President Bharat Oza.
The first of the three wildcards to India No. 3 Ramanathan, in South Asia’s only ATP Tour Tournament, has now strengthened the home challenge in the singles event with India’s Top-3 players making themselves spot into the main draw.
“We are happy to award the wildcard to Ramkumar who has been fighting hard and we hope that he will be able to make the most of his inclusion in the main draw. We have now Top-3 Indian players (Prajnesh, Nagal and Ramanathan) to present strong home challenge in this tournament,” Prashant Sutar, Tournament Director of Tata Open Maharashtra, said.
“It’s amazing to see two Indians getting direct entry into the main draw. I’m sure they will do well against world’s top tennis players. We have passionate crowd in Pune so it’s always nice to see Indian player competing in this tournament. We have been organising this event with the sole intention that our Indian players benefit the most,” he added.
The 22-year-old Nagal, who is currently ranked 131st in the world, has been impressive in the recent past. He took a set against legendary Roger Federer before going down in the first round of 2019 US Open -- his debut Grand Slam appearance.
However, the Chennai boy Ramanathan, who caught the eyes of the tennis world after his sensational straight sets triumph over, then World No. 8, Dominic Thiem during his first Top-10 clash in 2017, will make his third appearance in Pune.
“We are happy to have Ramanathan back in the third edition of Tata Open Maharashtra. He performed well in the previous two editions but unfortunately couldn’t progress. We are hoping to see a tough challenge from Indian players this time around,” Sanjay Khandare, Treasurer of Tata Open Maharashtra, said.
The third edition of India’s one of the oldest running tournaments will see the world’s top tennis star, such as Benoit Paire and Ivo Karlovic, competing for the prestigious title. The qualifier rounds will be played on February 1-2.
MSLTA President Bharat Oza said: “This tournament has always helped Indian players to get the experience of playing against the world’s top players. We have seen young Indian talents coming up during the past editions and we believe this tournament will keep giving platform to local player to make themselves notice at the world level.”
Source: Press Release