Tata Open tennis | A chance for Indians to hold centrestage

To prove a point: Ramkumar Ramanathan would like to use the Tata Open to show that he is no spent force.

To prove a point: Ramkumar Ramanathan would like to use the Tata Open to show that he is no spent force.  

Frenchman Paire, the biggest star, will not be on show until Wednesday

Benoit Paire is a much-loved man in these parts. The Frenchman’s thrill-a-minute persona, a combination of some outrageous shot-making and his spontaneously combustible nature, have routinely kept Indian tennis fans on the edge of their seats.

But until such a time the showman is on show — not until Wednesday — it will be the turn of a bunch of Indians led by Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Sumit Nagal to shine in the limelight as the Tata Open Maharashtra gets underway at the Balewadi Stadium here from Monday.

Five of them will be in action over the next two days, including wild cards Ramkumar Ramanathan, Sasi Kumar Mukund and Arjun Kadhe.

For Prajnesh and Nagal in particular, the tournament will be an important marker. Prajnesh entered last year’s edition as India’s top-ranked player (107) and has done modestly well to retain that position and a ranking in the vicinity (123 as on Sunday).

But having scaled a high of 75 last April, the 30-year-old will no doubt want more.

“The goal is to climb as fast as possible and then eventually go back to the ATP tour like the tournament here,” said Prajnesh.

“Since the second half of last year, I wasn’t at 100%. But it is what it is and I still had a pretty decent Australian Open.

“I got in as a lucky loser but I obviously put myself in that position; ranked high enough and being in the final round [of qualifying].”

“I think I should have played better. But things are getting better. And I think my tennis is there. I’m constantly improving and once things fall into place, I will start getting results again.”

Measuring stick

For Nagal, the show court meeting on Monday with the accomplished Serbian Viktor Troicki, who came through the qualifying, will be a good measuring stick after the high of last year when he pinched a set off Roger Federer at the US Open. Breaching the top-100 and qualifying for the French Open on his beloved clay are his immediate targets.

“The goal is to break into the top hundred as soon as possible,” said the 22-year-old. “French Open is the first goal and then it's going to be the Olympics. I can't put too much pressure on myself. But to be honest I'm very excited and I have good feeling about it.”

Ramkumar, India’s third best singles player, has now slipped into the 180s, but when he takes on Italian Salvatore Caruso in the final match on Centre Court on day one, it will be an opportunity to show that he is no spent force.

Qualifying results (final round): Lukas Rosol (Cze) bt Matthew Ebden (Aus) 6-2, 7-5; Roberto Marcora (Ita) bt Blaz Rola (Slo) 6-4, 7-6 (4); Nikola Milojevic (Srb) bt Robin Haase (Ned) 6-3, 6-3; Viktor Troicki (Srb) bt Evgeny Karlovskiy (Rus) 6-2, 6-4.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 8:51:33 AM |

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