CHENNAI : The Tata Open Maharashtra could be shifted to February from 2020. This is because the ATP’s revamped World Team Cup, set for re-entry from 2020, is slated to begin on January 3, 2020. The 24-team meet, to be conducted in association with Tennis Australia, has 750 ranking points on offer apart from a $15 million purse. This means that India’s only ATP World Tour event will have to shift in order to ensure they get players of a certain standing.
And tournament director Prashant Sutar confirmed as much by saying that the tournament could shift to February. “We are in talks with the ATP to shift the event to February,” he said. The interesting thing to note here is that the other season-opening ATP events, Brisbane and Doha, might also be planning to do the same to get the players they want.
Pune’s other option is to begin their tournament in the last week of 2019 but Sutar wasn’t too fond of that idea. “Most of the stakeholders for this event are on holiday in the last week of December so a February start for the Tata Open will work perfectly for us,” he said. The other thing which goes against a December ending is most players prefer playing exhibition matches in the Middle East and elsewhere to get themselves in the groove.
Speaking about the tournament this year, Sutar said they had made a number of small changes to make it better than last year. “Organising it in the first year was obviously a challenge,” he said. “Now, it’s all on auto pilot. However, we have made a number of small changes. We have brought in LED lighting apart from relaying the courts to make them slower than 2018.” That was made after a few players observed that the courts last year was faster than normal.
Top seed Marin Cilic is unlikely to feature in this edition. It’s been reported widely that the Croat has pulled out of the event but the organisers are keeping their cards close to their chest. If the World No 7, who has suffered a knee injury, withdraws, Kevin Anderson, who reached the Wimbledon final last year, will be the star attraction. The first edition was won by Frenchman Gilles Simon. Meanwhile, local boy Arjun Kadhe received a wild card into the main draw. The other Indians to receive a wild card were Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Ramkumar Ramanathan.