CHENNAI: Former US Open champion Marin Cilic will headline the inaugural Maharashtra Open. The Croat and first seed will not be the only 2017 Slam finalist (he played Roger Federer at Wimbledon) to play at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune. The big-serving South African Kevin Anderson, who went down to Rafa Nadal in the US Open final, is the second seed.
The other top players who will feature, according to the ATP who released the ‘player Entry List (as on November 20)’ for first-week tournaments next year, are Roberto Bautista Agut, Robin Haase and Jiri Vesely. Given that Spaniard Agut is the defending champion, he was always expected to be one among those to sign on the dotted line.
Interestingly, Chennai Open regular Borna Coric — the 21-year-old who featured in the NextGen Finals in Milan earlier this month — will not be coming. He features in Doha’s entry list, as does Albert Ramos Vinolas, the third seed at the Chennai Open last year. Chennai’s inferior monetary resources meant they consistently lost to Doha when it came to pulling power and that trend looks set to continue.
The Doha Open will have five of the world’s top-20 including Novak Djokovic, who will be coming back to competitive tennis after July. Before that, he will feature in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi.
Another man on the comeback trail, Andy Murray, will be in Brisbane, as well as Nadal and Grigor Dimitrov. Nick Kyrgios, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic, all back after missing the back end of the 2017 season, will also begin Down Under. Stan Wawrinka is yet to decide.
As far as the Indian contingent at the Maharashtra Open is concerned, a host of players have been drafted in as alternates (some may receive wild cards into the main draw).
The cut-off for the Maharashtra Open was No 102, so none of the Indian players got a direct entry. Yuki Bhambri, who won the Pune Challenger last week, is the eighth listed alternate. Ramkumar Ramanathan, finalist in the said Challenger, is the second Indian in the alternates list.
The $550,000 event — set to be one of the richest tennis competitions in India — is scheduled to begin on Jan 1. Seeds can still change because of withdrawals and wildcards.