Tennis treat begins at KSLTA Bengaluru Open

Bengaluru, Feb 5: The fourth edition of the Bengaluru Open ATP Challenger that begins on Monday boasts of one of the strongest fields assembled in a Challenger event in recent times, at least going by the original cut-off rankings for the main draw which stood at 206. Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Ramkumar Ramanathan were the only Indians getting a direct entry into the main draw before Saketh Myneni, SD Prajwal Dev and Rishi Reddy were handed a wildcard to make a pool of five Indians in the list of 24 singles direct entries.

Prajnesh meets Frenchman Mathias Bourgue in his opening encounter while Ramkumar is drawn against Max Purcell who finished runner-up in the doubles at the Australian Open last month. Saketh takes on Gian Marco Moroni of Italy while Prajwal clashes with Bulgarian Dimitar Kuzmanov. Debutant Rishi faces sixth seed Enzo Couacaud of France in his opening bout.

The hopes of more Indians entering the main round depend on the four qualifiers – Niki Poonacha, Karan Singh, Adil Kalyanpur and Arjun Kadhe who have to overcome two tough qualifying rounds before making it to the main draw of 32.

“We are pleased to present the fourth edition of the Bengaluru Open which has fast become a household name amongst the tennis circles across the globe. Bengaluru Open is one of our initiatives to nurture homegrown talent by giving them international exposure and experiencing high quality of competition to make them ready for bigger tours,” said Maheshwar Rao, Hon. Secy, KSLTA.

Chief referee for qualifying Katebi Ali (left) and Sunil Yajaman, Tournament Director during the draw ceremony.

The field is led by Czech Jiri Vesely who is currently ranked 80th and Stefano Travaglia (93rd) who are the top two seeds followed by Australian Aleksandar Vukic and Hugo Grenier who are seeded third and fourth respectively. The field also includes names like seventh seed Elias Ymer of Sweden, who has felled four seeds to reach the semifinals of ongoing ATP 250 event in Pune, and Evgeny Donskoy of Russia who had shocked Roger Federer in 2017 at the Dubai International amongst others. Ramkumar is the highest ranked Indian in the fray and is seeded tenth.

Prajnesh who had won the 2018 edition anticipated a fierce competition. While speaking to the media on the eve of the tournament, he said: “All the good guys who played in Pune ATP last week are here and I am expecting a tough competition here. I am almost in good shape and looking forward to a good week here,” said Prajnesh who reached a career high of 75 in 2019. “Bengaluru has been a happy hunting ground for me and I like the conditions here although the ball plays a bit tricky here,” said the 32-year-old.

Meanwhile, the pair of Divij Sharan and Yuki Bhambri and the duo of Adil Kalyanpuri and Mukund Sasikumar were given wild cards for the doubles event. The Indian pair of Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Purav Raja have been given the top billing.

“We have a stellar field this time around for the first week. I hope the players, especially the Indians will make the most of the opportunity to earn as many points as possible and climb the ranking list which will catapult to bigger tours,” said Sunil Yajaman, Tournament Director. “Since spectators are allowed up to 50% of the capacity, I am hoping that the tennis lovers of Bengaluru will come and witness their favourite players in flesh and blood. The spectators will have to be fully vaccinated,” he added.

The opening ceremony will be held on Monday at 9.30 a.m. by Mr. R Ashoka, President KSLTA and also the Revenue Minister, Govt. of Karnataka. The matches begin from 10 a.m. onwards.

Pic attached: (from left) Sunil Yajaman, Tournament Director, players Yuki Bhambri, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Divij Sharan and Maheshwar Rao, Hon. Secretary KSLTA during the pre-event conference.

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