India No. 1 Mukund Sasikumar was on Wednesday handed a wild card entry at the fifth edition of the Tata Open Maharashtra as the organisers assured India’s presence in the singles main draw of home ATP event, scheduled at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune from December 31 to January 7.
The 25-year-old Chennai-born player will be the first wildcard entrant this year as the tough singles field consists of 17 top-100 players, including the former Grand Slam champion Marin Cilic and last year’s runner-up Emil Ruusuvuori.
“This is India’s tournament and we are committed to provide a platform to Indian players, helping them get the much-needed opportunities. We are delighted to give a wildcard to Mukund Sasikumar; he is the top ranked Indian at the moment. I hope he will make the most of this opportunity and put up some impressive performances in front of the home fans,” said Prashant Sutar, Tournament Director of Tata Open Maharashtra and Chairman of Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association.
“Playing big tournaments like Tata Open Maharashtra always helps players to boost their confidence, especially when you compete against some of the world’s best athletes. Mukund Sasikumar is one of India’s talented players and this tournament has always encouraged Indian participation. It will be a great opportunity for him to showcase his game and get valuable experience as we have a competitive field this year with some big names,” said Sunder Iyer, Joint Secretary of All India Tennis Association and Secretary of Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association.
In September, Mukund won the ITF Future event in Portugal—his first title in five years, and also finished runner-up at an ITF 15 event in Egypt earlier this month.
This will be Mukund’s second main draw appearance at the Tata Open Maharashtra after his maiden outing in the third edition. The World No. 340 featured in the qualifiers last year.
Yuki Bhambri will also play in the singles as he will compete in the qualifiers.
The prestigious tournament, owned by IMG and managed by RISE Worldwide, will be conducted by the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA) in association with the Government of Maharashtra and is sponsored by Tata Motors.
Fans can also book tickets on zoonga.com. With Viacom18 Sports as the official broadcast partner, the thrilling live action from the main draw will be available on Sports18 – 1 SD, Sports18 – 1 HD and JioCinema.
The tournament will also witness an exciting competition in the doubles, which features top pairs including the three-time Grand Slam champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury.
The qualifiers will begin on December 31 while the main draw will be played from January 2-7.