India’s top two singles players, Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan, will not be seen in action at the USD 150,000 Bengaluru Open — one of the biggest Challenger tournaments in the country —- due to different reasons. Surprisingly, Yuki has preferred a smaller (USD 50,000) Challenger tournament in Kobe, Japan in the same week while Ramkumar has to attend a mandatory ATP educative programme in London, which talks about several issues including anti-doping.
“I like playing in Japan,” was a terse reply from Yuki when contacted by PTI and asked about his choice. With both of them missing, in-form Prajnesh Gunneswaran will be India’s biggest hope and the only one to make it to the singles main draw of the tournament, scheduled to be held at KSLTA from November 12 to 17.
The Indian players have always demanded home tournaments to cut down on travel cost and had expressed concerns about vanishing international tournaments from the country, of late. Defending champion Sumit Nagal, who has been struggling for form, will have to to come through qualifiers.
However, there will be top-100 players such as Radu Albot (89) from Moldova and Russian Evgeny Donskoy (99) apart from many players ranked between 100-150 will feature in the competition. The cut-off for direct entry is 244.
Jordan Thompson (Australia, No. 101), Ricardas Berankis (Lithuania, No. 131), Elias Ymer (Sweden, No. 133), Marc Polmans (Australia, No. 145) and Simone Bolelli (Italy (No. 147) make up the under-150 list.
Radu, who is called the ‘Machine’ by his fellow players, had his biggest achievement when he beat 12th seeded Carreno Busta in five sets to reach third round of Wimbledon this year.
Donskoy, meanwhile, who grew up idolising Yevgeny Kafelnikov, was ranked 71st when he began the season and but had dropped in ranking owing to an injury. Thompson, who is likely to be seeded third, will also be a strong contender.
The main draw of 32 comprises of 22 players who get a direct entry, four wild cards and four qualifiers with two from special exempted category making up the final numbers.
One of the wild card would be given to the winner of the on-going Bengaluru Open wild card event — an AITA tournament.