PUNE: World No. 41 Benoit Paire will be the star attraction in the first ATP Tata Open Maharashtra qualifiers to be held on December 30-31.
The Frenchman will be joined by Spanish world No. 164 Tommy Robredo for the race to grab the four spots in the main draw starting on January 1, 2018. The ATP 250 World Tour series will played at the Balewadi Stadium and hosted by Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA) in association with the Government of Maharashtra.
Paire, 2015 ATP comeback Player of the Year, has made five appearances in the Indian ATP event. The Frenchman reached the semifinal of this marquee event thrice including in 2017, 2016 & 2012. Spaniard Robredo will be coming back to India after a gap of 14 years.
In 2004, he lost a nail-biting semifinal to Paradorn Srichaphan while in 2002 he lost in the semifinals to Russian Andrei Stoliarov.
Paire earned his career’s biggest win this year when he beat world No. 3 Stanislas Wawrinka in ATP Masters 1000 Madrid in the second round. Interestingly, playing alongside the Swiss player, Paire had also won the 2013 Chennai Open doubles title, a feat he couldn’t repeat in the 2016 edition pairing with Austin Krajicek.
After withdrawing from last season’s event due to an injury, Robredo will make the main draw exciting if he gets through the qualifiers. The Spanish pro had won the Chennai Open doubles title alongside Rafael Nadal way back in 2004.
He also won an ATP Masters 1000 doubles event in Monaco alongside Nadal in 2008, beating the pair of Mark Knowles & Mahesh Bhupathi.
Others in the fray are world No. 110 Marco Cecchinato. The Italian who lost his qualifying match to India’s Yuki Bhambri last year will look to better his record here in India. World no. 127 Adrian Menendez-Maceiras, world No. 186 Carlos Taberner and world No. 199 Ricardo Ojeda Lara will be three other Spanish players along with Robredo in the qualifiers.
Menendez-Maceiras will be making his second visit to Pune this year after playing in the KPIT-MSLTA Challenger event earlier in November. The Spanish lost to Bhambri in the singles semifinals while made a finals appearance in doubles. In 2015, he won the doubles title at the same event.
Meanwhile if Taberner makes it to the main draw, it will be his first ever ATP World Tour event.
The list also includes world No. 118 Ruben Bemelmans from Belgium, world No. 124 Thiago Monteiro from Brazil, world No. 149 Egor Gerasimov from Bulgaria with Indian representation in the form of Sumit Nagal and Prajnesh Gunneswaran.
Nagal comes at the back of a victorious campaign at the ATP Bengaluru Open lifting his maiden Challenger level title with a three-set win over Briton Jay Clarke in November. The 20-year-old Nagal defeated his British opponent 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in the summit clash.
During the tournament, Nagal toppled India’s best singles players Yuki Bhambri and other international established players such as Slovenia’s Blaz Kavcic to rise to his career best ranking.
On the other hand, Gunneswaran comes to the qualifying round of this event for the fourth time at the back of three ITF tournament wins; China F10, India F6 in Trivandrum and India F4 in Bhilai. The Chennai player will look to continue his pursuit for a spot in the main draw.
“With the likes of Paire and Robredo, this year’s qualifying round line up adds to the excitement of the event,” said Prashant Sutar, tournament director.
IMPRESSIVE PLAYER FIELD FOR QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT
- Benoit Paire (France) 41
- Marco Cecchinato (Italy) 110
- Ruben Bemelmans (Belgium) 118
- Thiago Monteiro (Brazil) 124
- A Menendez-Maceiras (Brazil) 127
- Egor Gerasimov (Bulgaria) 149
- Tommy Robredo (Spain) 164
- Soon-woo Kwon (Korea) 168
- Carlos Taberner (Spain) 186
- Ricardo Ojeda Lara (Spain) 199
- Sumit Nagal (India) 223
- Ilya Ivashka (Bulgaria) 230
- Prajnesh Gunneswaran (India) 243
- Joao Souza (Brazil) 246