The ATP Tata Open Maharashtra Pune from a Challenger series is now a full-fledged world ATP tournament. This is a paradigm shift for sports loving fans from Pune, who for the first time will witness world class tennis players in their city.
ATP Tata Open Maharashtra Pune – Balewadi Sports Complex to host the International Event
Pune’s rich sports culture has time and again had a national impact. There are a few popular sports in the Maharashtra like badminton, Kabaddi, and hockey but, at the end cricket dominates when one talks about sports in the state.
From the last 22 years, the ATP tournament has been associated with the big metro cities of India. New Delhi hosted the inaugural edition in 1996, and Chennai was the home for the next 21 years. But the good news is organisers are looking beyond metro cities and it’s a good omen that ‘young metros’ like Pune are getting a chance to host the ATP Tata Open Maharashtra Pune.
For the past few years, the biggest tournament the Balewadi stadium hosted was an ATP Challenger. Though, it also hosted the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games, and is the home ground of FC Pune city in ISL, hosting a world ranking ATP tour is a big thing.
To make it look more international, the green colour associated with the logo of the lower-level event, has been replaced by the blue colour of a tour event. From the new banners of branding that covers the outside pillars and hangs under the centre court roof, to the arching structures that cover each entry to the venue. A revamped Balewadi Sports complex awaits everyone of you to experience a world class tennis tournament.
The larger part of the stadium host several different sports in a sprawling setup. However, the tennis section of this sports park is modest. The tennis complex has five hard courts, the central stadium court and four side courts to facilitate this tournament. The main stadium court holds 4,200 people.
Interesting facts, stats and player information from the first ever ATP Tata Open Maharashtra Pune 2018:
- Its Pune’s Debut ATP tour: The ATP World Tour rings in the New Year in a new city. From Chennai to Pune, India’s only ATP event welcomes Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic, US Open finalist Kevin Anderson and defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut.
- The consistent Croatian: Marin Cilic returns to India after winning the Chennai championship in 2009 and 2010. The Croatian has captured an ATP World Tour title 10 ten times. Cilic qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals and posted Top 10 finishes in 2014, 2016 and 2017.
- Pune will see the Tallest Tennis player ever: The 6-foot-8 South African Kevin Anderson became the tallest Grand Slam finalist in the Open Era when he faced Rafael Nadal for the US Open title in 2017. Anderson who was ranked 32nd at that time, emerged as the lowest-ranked US Open finalist since the inception of ATP Rankings in 1973. He was the first South African US Open finalist in the Open Era. This is his first time in India.
- A Unique Stat: Bautista Agut has completed four straight seasons with both a Top-25 ranking and 40+ wins. The Spaniard also spent 103 consecutive weeks ranked between No. 13 and No. 23. Ranked 20 now, Bautista Agut is the defending 2017 Chennai champion. Let’s see what Pune has in store for him.
- First Timer Simon: Another player eager to start the new season at the ATP Tata Open Maharashtra Pune is former World No. 6 Gilles Simon. 2017 was a bad year for him. Now ranked 89th, Simon is making his first appearance at the ATP 250 in India. He hasn’t reached a tournament final since 2015.
- Paire’s Sixth time in India: No. 4 seed and wild card entry Benoit Paire is making his sixth appearance in India out of seven years (except 2015). The Frenchman had a 10-5 record in Chennai. He reached the semi-finals in 2013, 2016 and 2017.
- Nicolas Kicker kicks clay for hard court: Nicolas Kicker ended the 2017 season in the top 100. He reached first quarter-finals at Rio de Janeiro, Lyon and Hamburg. The 25-year-old Argentine is yet to win a pro match at any level, other than clay court.
- It’s Tennys Time in Pune: American youngster Tennys Sandgren completed the 2017 season as World No. 96. He won two ATP Challenger Tour titles.
- Indian Title Hopes: There are three Indian contenders in the singles main draw. The draw is led by the country’s top two tennis player’s world No. 116 Yuki Bhambri and wild card No. 148 Ramkumar Ramanathan. The latter reached the quarter-finals in 2016. Punekar and wild card Arjun Kadhe, plays Bhambri in the first round.
- India has a ‘Double Dhamal’: There are nine Indian players in the doubles category. The pack is led by No. 4 seeds and defending champions Rohan Bopanna and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan. They take on compatriots Leander Paes and Purav Raja. Paes had won Chennai titles in 1997-99, 2002, 2011-12.
ATP Tata Open Maharashtra Pune – Fans to witness a Strong Contingent of International Tennis Players
The ATP Maharashtra Open is considered as a great warm up to Australian Open. Top 30 players in world ranking wait for the New Year tour of India, as 250 points are up for grabs. This significantly improves their ranking going into the first Grand Slam of the year.
This year the foreign players are led by World No 6 Marin Cilic, who won the Chennai Open in 2009 and 2010, and South Africa’s World No 14 Kevin Anderson. The ATP Maharashtra Open Pune 2018 also has players like World No 22 Roberto Bautista Agut, Gilles Simon, Benoit Paire and Robin Haase in the mix.
Top seed Cilic, second seed Anderson, third seed Bautista Agut and fourth seed Paire have all been given first round byes.
2017 Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic the two time champion of Chennai Open is the top seed at ATP Tata Open Maharashtra Pune. He had a few good moments in which, Marin played high-level tennis, especially at the Shanghai Masters. He engaged Rafael Nadal in a terrific semifinal. Cilic. In his prime the Croatian is dangerous enough to beat any opponent on tour.
However, inconsistency is his problem. In his defense, we can add that he got injured at the end of Wimbledon finals last year. Subsequently, he did not have a chance to practice or train the way he wanted to over the summer. This was a set back and robbed him of the ability to play the rhythmic baseline tennis, which Marin relies on.
Marin Cilic went all out in Shanghai, but was exhausted after making the semifinals in Basel. Due to this he had very little left in the tank at Paris-Bercy and then in the ATP Finals. At this tour he lost a string of three-set matches. Marin would like to start 2018 on a winning note and ATP Tata Open Maharashtra Pune can help him to do so.
Kevin Anderson is given the second seed at ATP Tata Open Maharashtra Pune. He is currently ranked No. 14 in the world. Anderson had the moment of a lifetime in 2017. The South African reached his first major final at the U.S. Open before losing to Rafael Nadal.
The match against Nadal was the culmination of a steady uphill battle. Anderson made to a first ever Grand Slam quarterfinal at the U.S. Open in 2015, but injury made him sit out for most of 2016. The 2017 season marked his comeback. Kevin Anderson would like to into the Australian Open by winning the 250 points on offer at the ATP Tata Open Maharashtra Pune.
Robert Bautista Agut
Roberto Bautista, defending champion of the Chennai Open 2017, is seeded third at the Pune ATP tour. The world No 22 is a hard-working athlete and persistent player without too much talent. Bautista covers the court well and displays more focus than many of his opponents, using his fitness to his advantage.
Robin Haase is the fifth seed at the ATP Tata Open Maharashtra Pune. He made it to the semifinals of the Montreal Masters last year. He has shown signs of fulfilling his potential in the second half of his career after many initial struggles. Robin Haase is more dangerous than many people might first think.
ATP Tata Open Maharashtra Pune – Its team Leander vs Team Rohan Bopanna is the Doubles Opener
The doubles draw will witness around 9 Indian players, alongside legendary Indian tennis players Paes and Bopanna.
The four Indian pairs are Bhambri-Divij Sharan, Rohan Bopanna-Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, Leander Paes-Purav Raja and N Sriram Balaji-Vishnu Vardhan. Arjun Kadhe will partner international star Benoit Paire.
However, the most exciting contest of the ATP Tata Open Maharashtra Pune should be Paes-Raja’s opener against Bopanna and Nedunchezhiyan. Raja partnered with Leander just before the US Open 2017, and ended the season with back-to-back Challenger titles. There was also a semi-final finish at the ATP 250 St Petersburg Open.
The other top Indian pair of Yuki Bhambri-Sharan will start their campaign against Laslo Djere and Kavcic. The Balaji-Vardhan duo begins their campaign against Adil Shamasdin and Neal Skupski and will face Kadhe and Paire if they win.
A point to remember here is Paes-Raja, Bopanna-Nedunchezhiyan and Bhambri-Sharan, are all part of the top half of the draw. They are tied along with the top seeded pairing of Robert Lindstedt and Franko Skugor.
Arjun Kadhe and Benoit Paire begin their campaign against second seeded Robin Haase and Matwe Middelkoop. They are in the bottom half of the draw along with Balaji and Vardhan.
The final will be held on 6 January.
Event: ATP Tata Open Maharashtra Pune
Category: ATP 250 Series
Date: January 1-6, 2018
Location: Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Balewadi, Pune, India
ATP Points up for Grabs
Champion – 250
Runner-up – 150
Semifinal – 90
Quarterfinal – 45
Former Champions of last 5 years and Results – Chennai Open (now Pune Open)
2017: Roberto Bautista Agut def. Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-4
2016: Stan Wawrinka def. Borna Coric 6-3, 7-5
2015: Stan Wawrinka def. Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-4
2014: Stan Wawrinka def. Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-5, 6-2
2013: Janko Tipsarevic def. Roberto Bautista-Agut 3-6, 6-1, 6-3
With prize money just over $501,000, this is relatively a standard amount of money for an ATP 250 championship. The prize money for ATP Maharashtra Open Pune is more from last year’s $450,000. This is a valuable tune-up for the Australian Open. However, in terms of preparation, more than money, this tournament matters as it is one of the last warm up before the trip to Melbourne, for the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open.