Bengaluru Open: Prajnesh to start against France’s Bourgue; Divij-Yuki get wild card for doubles

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India’s Prajnesh Gunneswaran will open his men’s singles campaign against Mathias Bourgue of France in the fourth edition of the Bengaluru Open ATP Challenger that begins here on Monday.

The event boasts of one of the strongest fields assembled in a Challenger event in recent times, at least going by the original cut-off rankings for the main draw which stood at 206.

So, Prajnesh and Ramkumar Ramanathan were the only Indians getting a direct entry into the singles’ main draw before Saketh Myneni, SD Prajwal Dev and Rishi Reddy were handed a wildcard to make a pool of five Indians in the list of 24 singles direct entries.

While Prajnesh starts against Frenchman Bourgue, Ramkumar is drawn to meet Max Purcell, who finished runner-up in the doubles at the Australian Open last month.

Myneni takes on Gian Marco Moroni of Italy while Prajwal will clash with Bulgarian Dimitar Kuzmanov. Debutant Rishi faces sixth seed Enzo Couacaud of France in his opening bout.

The hopes of more Indians entering the main round depend on the four qualifiers — Niki Poonacha, Karan Singh, Adil Kalyanpur and Arjun Kadhe, who have to overcome two tough qualifying rounds before making it to the main draw of 32.

“We are pleased to present the fourth edition of the Bengaluru Open which has fast become a household name amongst the tennis circles across the globe. Bengaluru Open is one of our initiatives to nurture homegrown talent by giving them international exposure and experiencing high quality of competition to make them ready for bigger tours,” said Maheshwar Rao, Honorary Secretary, KSLTA.

The field is led by Czech Jiri Vesely who is currently ranked 80th and Stefano Travaglia (93rd) who are the top two seeds followed by Australian Aleksandar Vukic and Hugo Grenier, who are seeded third and fourth respectively.

The field also includes names like seventh seed Elias Ymer of Sweden, who caused a few upsets in the ongoing ATP 250 event in Pune before losing in the semi-finals, and Evgeny Donskoy of Russia, who had shocked Roger Federer in 2017 at the Dubai International amongst others. Ramkumar is the highest-ranked Indian in the fray and is seeded tenth.

Meanwhile, the pair of Divij Sharan and Yuki Bhambri and the duo of Adil Kalyanpuri and Mukund Sasikumar were given wild cards for the doubles event. The Indian pair of Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Purav Raja have been given the top billing.

“We have a stellar field this time around for the first week. I hope the players, especially the Indians will make the most of the opportunity to earn as many points as possible and climb the ranking list which will catapult to bigger tours,” Sunil Yajaman, Tournament Director, was quoted as saying in a release on Saturday.

“Since spectators are allowed up to 50% of the capacity, I am hoping that the tennis lovers of Bengaluru will come and witness their favourite players in flesh and blood. The spectators will have to be fully vaccinated,” he added.

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