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The Chennai Open’s move to Pune marks an end to the 21-year run in which the city was the only Indian name in the ATP Tour calendar. But professional Tennis players in the country expressed relief in that the event remained in India and did not required to be shifted overseas.
IMG, the owners of the ATP 250 tournament, ended their contract with the TNTA to take Chennai Open out of the southern city and signed a deal with Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association. It was earlier reported that IMG had considered Singapore as a potential venue but eventually squared down on Pune, thus keeping the tournament in the country.
According to PTI, the country’s top singles player Yuki Bhambri says keeping the tournament in India was crucial. “How many tournaments we have in India? If we had lost this one too, it would have been a big setback. Sad for Chennai but still we have kept it in the country. No Challenger has been held this year so far. We need tournaments in India to help players make progress,” said Bhambri, “Players look to play in different tournaments in different cities. I have good memories from both places. It’s good job by MSLTA to keep the tournament in India. I am familiar with the conditions there. I am sure they will make it a world class event. Pune has good facility.”
Only two ATP Challengers have been hosted by India – the Delhi Open and Pune Challenger – in 2016 as opposed to four that were held in 2015. This year, not a single Challenger has got going and thus, players unable to travel aborad have struggled to earn points.
Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, who won the 21st and the last edition of the Chennai Open with compatriot Rohan Bopanna, said he’s happy that India still has a tournament. “It’s sad that it’s not in Chennai anymore,” said Nedunchezhiyan, “It is what it is. But I am excited to play in Pune as always. India has one tournament a year which I consider a home event so I’m happy that it’s still in our country.”
“It would be nice to see more such level events in India through the year to help us all go higher in the rankings because playing at home is a big advantage. Of course this would only be possible if the AITA has any intent of creating a better system of tournament for the players,” the southpaw added with a tinge of sarcasm.
Saketh Myneni, who has returned to circuit after a left foot injury and a shoulder issue, said, “Sorry to hear that Chennai won’t be the venue for the only ATP tournament in India but glad at least it didn’t leave the country.”
N Sriram Balaji, who is making good progress as a doubles player now, said he had “great memories in Chennai”.
“It was my first ATP tour event in my career and my home event as well. Of course it’s a big disappointment that the tournament has been taken away from Chennai. It has been there for 21 years. Pune is a nice city too. I loved playing there but it had become a tradition to have the ATP event in Chennai.
“I guess if there was another city which I would’ve loved to play would be Pune because of the tennis loving people and the crowd Pune can gather for tennis events. Hope it stays like that,” he said.