Defending champ Jiri Vesely and India’s Yuki Bhambri received direct entry into singles main draw.
Current World No. 18 Aslan Karatsev and defending champion Jiri Vesely will be vying for the singles title alongside seven other Top 100 players as South Asia’s only ATP Tour tournament, Tata Open Maharashtra, gears up for a much-awaited comeback with an action-packed fourth edition, scheduled to be held at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune from January 31 to February 6.
One of Asia’s longest running tennis tournaments—now in its 26th year—will be making a return after a year’s break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA) will be hosting the prestigious tournament, which is sponsored by Tata Group in association with the Government of Maharashtra.
The 28-year-old Russian Karatsev had a phenomenal 2021 as he became the first-ever player to reach the semi-finals on Grand Slam debut in Australia, bagged two singles titles, defeated tennis great Novak Djokovic as well as clinched a mixed-doubles silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Hailed as Russia’s “secret weapon” by teammate and World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev during their team’s 2021 ATP Cup triumph, Karatsev will be eager to carry forward a sensational run and make his mark on debut at Tata Open Maharashtra.
“We are thrilled to announce the return of this prestigious tournament. It has a rich legacy of having top players from across the world participating in it and the upcoming edition will be a testament of the same tradition. Despite the challenges and the pandemic, we are glad to see such a good response with players coming from the world over. We promise to bring yet another edition with a high-voltage action for the fans,” said Prashant Sutar, Tournament Director of Tata Open Maharashtra.
With a stiff cut off at 149, the country’s premier ATP 250 event will also witness some of the experienced names as well as promising young guns from the tennis world such as Australia’s John Millman, Portugal’s best tennis player of all time João Sousa and Italian teenage sensation Lorenzo Musetti.
The 19-year-old Musetti made the headlines last year when he became the youngest player to break into the Top 100. In his short career so far, the young Italian has impressed everyone with his consistent match-winning performances against Top 10 players, including Stan Wawrinka, Grigor Dimitrov and Kei Nishikori.
The 32-year-old experienced campaigner Millman, on the other hand, will be another player to watch out at Pune’s event. He had a breakthrough year in 2018, in which he defeated Roger Federer at the US Open and also broke the Top 50 barrier in the world rankings.
After recovering from an injury, India’s Yuki Bhambri will also kickstart his campaign in the main draw with a protected ranking. Bhambri is currently preparing for the upcoming Australian Open.
“We had worked really hard to bring back this tournament. I would like to thank all the stakeholders for their continuous support, throughout. We are aware of the challenges ahead but we are ready to tackle them all, strategically. MSLTA have successfully conducted a few tournaments recently and I believe we can pull this off too. Safety of the players as well as others involved is of prime importance to us and, as organisers, we will not compromise on that. We will be strictly following the government’s Covid-19 guidelines to bring yet another successful edition,” MSLTA Secretary Sunder Iyer said.
Czech Republic star Jiri Vesely, who ended his five-year-long wait for a singles title in the last edition, will be presenting a strong challenge on his comeback into the city.
Among other names from the third edition, returning to Pune are: runner-up Egor Gerasimov, all-time highest ranked Lithuanian star Ričardas Berankis, World No. 49 James Duckworth and Italian star Stefano Travaglia, who clinched his first ATP Challenger title in Sibiu recently. Former Youth Olympics champion Kamil Majchrzak, Moldova’s first-ever ATP singles title winner Radu Albot, and World No. 62 Gianluca Mager are the other notable names from the provisional list.
The qualifying draws will take place on January 30 and 31, with the final taking place on February 6.