As India’s biggest tennis event, Tata Open Maharashtra returning to the opening week of the international tennis calendar, the action gets even more exciting with the presence of top names from the world, including 17 Top-100 players. While the prestigious tournament celebrates its glorious fifth edition in Pune, Tata Motors have also bolstered its commitment to tennis in India as the title sponsor for South Asia’s only ATP 250 event, owned by IMG and managed by RISE Worldwide. It will be organised by the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association in association with the Government of Maharashtra. The upcoming edition, scheduled at the Balewadi Stadium from December 31 to January 7, promises an action-packed week for the fans. Here are the top five players to watch out for at the event.
Marin Cilic (Word No. 17)
The Croatian star Marin Cilic will be making his much-awaited return at the Tata Open Maharashtra after four years, having reached the semi-finals in 2018. The former World No. 3 will be the strong contender for the title as he comes to Pune with red-hot form, especially after his maiden semi-finals appearance at the French Open earlier this year. Besides that, at the Adelaide International 2022, he also recorded his 550th win to become the only seventh active player to achieve the feat. Cilic has previously won the tournament twice, in 2009 and 2010, when it was conducted in Chennai. He would be looking to add yet another trophy to his illustrious cabinet, which also includes the 2014 US Open title.
Emil Ruusuvuori (World No. 40)
The Finnish youngster, Emil Ruusuvuori had an impressive outing in the last Tata Open Maharashtra where he entered his first ATP Tour final before going down fighting against Portugal’s Joao Sousa in the title clash. The 23-year-old rose through the ranks since then, taking a giant leap from World No. 87 to current career-best rankings of 40. The No. 1 Finnish singles player has also competed in all four Grand Slam events and has represented Finland in the Davis Cup as well. After missing out on the title last time, Ruusuvuori will be keen to finish the job this time and lift the coveted trophy as well as his first ATP Tour title.
Yuki Bhambri (World No. 553)
The former junior World No. 1 Yuki Bhambri is the lone Indian to receive entry in the singles qualifiers of the 5th edition of Tata Open Maharashtra. He made the cut on the basis of his protected rankings of 127. The Indian made a brilliant comeback in the last edition after an injury that kept him away from the game for almost two years. He ended his campaign in the pre-quarterfinals. The former Youth Olympics silver medallist had a phenomenal 2022, winning six ATP Challengers Tour doubles titles and he will look to replicate the same success in the singles as well when he kickstarts his campaign in front of the home fans on December 31.
Elias Ymer (World No. 127)
From qualifiers to semi-finals, the 26-year-old Swedish star had a dream run in the last edition of Tata Open Maharashtra, reaching his maiden ATP Tour semi-finals. Ymer caught many eyeballs by producing some solid performances which included him defeating the top seed and then World No 15 Aslan Karatsev in straight sets in the second round. In 2015, he made history as a teenager by becoming the second male player on record to qualify for all four Grand Slam events in a calendar year. Ymer will be high on confidence when he travels to Pune later this month and will look to end his wait for the maiden ATP singles title.
Sebastian Baez (World No. 43)
The rising star of tennis world Sebastian Baez will be making his debut at the Tata Open Maharashtra after an exceptional 2022. The 21-year-old from Argentina made his ATP debut last year and has already played all four Grand Slam events. With a sensational start to his career, he became the youngest to claim five Challenger titles in a season. Baez clinched his maiden ATP title by winning the 2022 Estoril Open. He also achieved career-high rankings of 31 after beating World No. 8 Andrey Rublev, the biggest win of his career, at the 2022 Bastad. The youngster will be eager to make his mark on debut in Pune.