Pune, January 31: Ace India tennis player Rohan Bopanna and his partner Arjun Kadhe has been awarded with the wild card entry in the doubles at the third edition of Tata Open Maharashtra which is scheduled from February 3-9 at Mhalunge Balewadi Stadium here. The announcement was made during a press conference here today in presence of Shravan Hardikar (IAS), Municipal Commissioner PCMC, OM Prakash Bokoria (IAS) Commissioner Sports, Sunder Iyer, Hon Secretary MSLTA and Prashant Sutar, Tournament Director Tata Open Maharashtra.

The World No. 38 Bopanna, who clinched the doubles title in the last edition playing alongside Divij Sharan, will lead Indian challenge in South Asia’s only ATP Tour tournament alongside local boy Arjun Kadhe. Sharan, who will partner alongside Artem Sitak, have already made into the main draw with a direct entry.

Kadhe also received wild card entry into the singles main draw while the third wild card has been awarded to young promising Indian player Sasikumar Mukund. “It’s amazing to have Bopanna back in the tournament. He clinched the title in the last edition and we hope he will dish out impressive show with Kadhe this year too,” said Prashant Sutar, Tournament Director, Tata Open Maharashtra.

With Kadhe and Mukund’s inclusion, five Indian players will now feature in the 28-size singles main draw with19 players with direct acceptances into the main draw. Earlier Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Sumit Nagal already made cut into the main draw with direct entries while and Ramkumar Ramanathan was given wild card, two more players will come in as special exempts and four will come through as qualifiers.

“This will be the first time that there are some many Indian players in the Main Draw, which is a great opportunity for the Indians as one of the primary goals of hosting this ATP Tour event in India has been to provide Indian players with a platform to not only provide them exposure but also help them to earn crucial ranking points,” Sutar added.

“We have also announced wild card entries to India’s Saket Myneni and French Open semi-finalist Earnest Gulbis in the singles qualifiers,”  Sutar  informed.

The third edition of India’s premier 250 event will see highest prize money in the tournament history. “The upcoming edition will also see the total prize money of USD 546,355, which is the highest ever. A decade before, in 2010, it was USD 398,250.

“We are also introducing shot clocks for the first time in this tournament,” said Sunder Iyer, MSLTA Secretary. The shot clocks will see counting 25 seconds allowed between the points. It was trialled at the Next Gen ATP Finals in 2007 and was also used at the 2018 US Open.

The third edition of the tournament promises an experiential experience for the spectators and budding tennis stars with the introduction of LED backdrop at the court. The upcoming edition also aims to bring the players and fans closer with more interactions and social media interactions in the coming week.

OM Prakash Bokoria (IAS) Commissioner Sports Said: “It’s privilege for Pune to host such a world class tournament. We have seen the world’s top tennis players competing during this tournament. It’s a great opportunity for fans to see the thrilling tennis action live in the city,”

“Pune has great sporting culture. This city has hosted many international events and have also produced top international athletes across many sports. The fans and the passion among them for the sports is amazing here,” he added.

“The main draw will be announced on January 1 while, the qualifier rounds will be played on February 1-2,” Hardikar said. The tickets are available online on the official ticket website: https://www.zoonga.com/tata-open.

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