BENGALURU: It was 2008, when the city last hosted a top-level tennis tournament, the Bangalore Open, with a prize money of $600,000, then a part of the WTA Tour. The famed Williams sisters — Serena and Venus — graced the courts, with Serena clinching the title. Since then, however, apart from a $50,000 ATP Challenger event in 2015, Davis Cup and ITF Futures, Bengaluru did not get the chance to play host to tennis tournaments of such magnitude.
Come November 20, however, the tennis fans in the city will witness the beginning of a new era, as the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association (KSLTA) promised. During November 20-25, the city will host a $100,000+hospitality ATP Challenger tournament in Bengaluru Open, in which players from 20 countries, including India’s top singles players, will participate.
The refurbished Bengaluru Open will be co-sponsored by Karnataka Tourism (KT), which aims at making the city a tourism destination using sports. The KSLTA and the KT are also mulling over making the event a permanent fixture in the ATP Challenger Tour.
There would be a draw of 32, with 22 players earning a direct entry while there would be four wildcards, four qualifiers, and two from the special exempted category. Qualifiers will start on November 18. The top seed is Slovakian Blaz Kavcic, who was ranked 99th as on October 30. With the updated ranking points, Moldova’s Radu Albot (86) will be the top player in the event.
As many as three Indians —Yuki Bhambri (140), who is the top-ranked amongst the hosts, Ramkumar Ramanathan (148) and Prajnesh Gunneswaran (255), all a part of the Indian Davis Cup team — have made it to the main draw. Sumit Nagal, Saketh Myneni and N Sriram Balaji are the other notable Indians. Doubles would be a keenly contested affair as Divij Sharan and Olympian Vishnu Vardhan would be in action.
Myneni, who is making a comeback after a six-month injury layoff, said a tournament like this will help players break into the top-100. “Although we have a lot of talented players, it is difficult for them to break in the top-100 owing to the dearth of events like this, and it is a long process to climb up the ladder,” said the Arjuna Awardee.