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Tata Open Maharashtra Preview: Indian Players Need To Punch Above Their Weight To Make Their Presence Felt

Indians have done well in doubles, but no singles player has gone beyond the second round since the tournament moved to Pune from Chennai.

It will be really tough for the Indians to advance, especially in singles.
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The Indian singles players, who needed either wildcard entries or came through the qualifying route in the main draw of Tata Open Maharashtra, will need to play out of their skin to go deep in the biggest home ATP event, beginning in Pune from Monday. (More Tennis News)

The Indians have done well in the doubles, going even full distance in the previous editions, but no singles player has gone beyond the second round since the tournament moved to Pune from Chennai.

The very purpose of bringing the tournament to the country is to help home players rub shoulders with the best in the business.

The gulf is apparent, and sometimes, even led to a debate if such a tournament, hosting of which requires at least Rs 15 crore, is required since the home players do not back it with results.

But it is also extremely tough to put on a show just because the players are competing at home. The competition level remains high and nothing changes except that the Indian players get crowd support in a familiar environment.

The seasoned Rohan Bopanna, though, has done extremely well at home. He also remains a contender even in overseas tournaments because of the quality of his game.

Ramkumar Ramanathan and Sumit Nagal, on their day, can fight hard against the top players, but stitching together such performances is what is required at this level.

The singles rankings are well beyond the direct entry, and hence, the organisers handed wildcard entries to the country's best-ranked singles player Sasikumar Mukund, Nagal, and talented local player Manas Dhamne.

Unfortunately, Yuki Bhambri who used his Protected Ranking, could not qualify for the main draw, losing in the second round.

Bhambri, Ramkumar, and Prajnesh Gunneswaran have kept the Indian flag flying at this tournament, but gradually, these stars are fading. Prajnesh is already 33, Yuki has touched his 30s and Ramkumar is in his late 20s.

Nagal, 25, has struggled with injuries in what looked like a promising career.

Yuki was always considered a top-50 prospect, but both he and Prajnesh lost crucial time to injuries.

The game has only become brutal with tall European players blasting the ball around tirelessly from both the flanks, with insane fitness backing their superior strokeplay.

Nagal will have to pull off something special if he has to extend his stay beyond the first round as he is up against world number 54 Filip Krajinovic from Serbia.

Sasi Mukund is up against Flavio Cobolli and if he clears the first round, he will clash with second seed and world number 17 Botic Van de Zandaschulp from the Netherlands.

Ramkumar will lock horns with Pedro Martinez of Spain while young Dhamne will clash with American Michael Mmoh.

So it will be really tough for the Indians to advance in the singles and even reaching the quarterfinals will be decent for them.

In the doubles though there will be a lot of Indian interest with a number of players competing.

Defending champions Bopanna and Ramkumar are playing with different partners and are on a collision course in the second round if they clear their respective opening rounds.

Yuki and Saketh Myneni have paired as a team and the successful combo in the past of Divij Sharan and Purav Raja is back with a wildcard entry.

Arjun Kadhe is also there with Brazilian Fernando Ramboli.

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