Bengaluru Open: Bhambri, Ramanathan in spotlight

Saketh Myneni, who is making a comeback from injury, said that he hopes to use this tournament to regain his confidence.

From left: Maheshwar Rao (Principal Secy, GoK), Lakshminarayan M (Addl. Chief Secy, GoK. & Vice President of KSLTA),Rajeneesh Goyal (Addl. Chief Secy, GoK), Priyank Kharge (Minister for Tourism, IT & BT, GoK), Zeeshan Ali (Davis Cup Coach), Saketh Myneni, C.S. Sundar Raju (Hon. Secy, KSLTA & Hon. Vice President AITA) at the launch of the Bengaluru Open tennis tournament at KSLTA on Thursday.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Quality tennis action comes to town with the Bengaluru Open, a $1,00,000 ATP Challenger Tour event, to be held at the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association (KSLTA) courts here. The tournament, sponsored by Karnataka Tourism, commences on 20 November.

The event comes as a boon for Indian players, who will look to use familiar conditions to put up a good show and climb the world rankings ladder. Yuki Bhambri (World No. 140), Ramkumar Ramanathan (World No.148) and southpaw Prajnesh Gunneswaran (World No. 262) are the home players who feature in the singles main draw.

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Saketh Myneni, who is making a comeback from injury, said that he hopes to use this tournament to regain his confidence. Divij Sharan and Vishnu Vardhan lead the Indian contingent in the doubles section.

Slovenia’s Blaz Kavcic (World no. 98) starts as the favourite in the singles field. Moldovan Radu Albot, who defeated Russian star Mikhail Youzhny on his way to claiming the $75,000 Shenzhen Longhua Open Challenger title recently, is another player to watch out for. Albot appeared in the singles main draw of all Grand Slam events this year, with a third-round showing at the U.S. Open counting as his best return.

India’s Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali stated, “Indian players need to compete in Challenger events like this to make the jump from the fringes to the top-100 in the rankings. The talent is there, it is just that they have lacked the opportunities to consistently play Challenger events in India."

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C.S. Sundar Raju, AITA Hon. Vice President and KSLTA Hon. Secretary, praised the State Tourism Ministry for its support. The Ministry has sponsored several sports tournaments in the recent past in a bid to increase tourism footfall. State Minister for Tourism, IT, BT, Science & Technology Priyank Kharge said, “We want to drive economic growth in Karnataka by hosting sports events like this. Karnataka Tourism recently sponsored IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore, which resulted in a massive increase increase in the bookings for Jungle Lodges. It cost us a bomb, but it was worth it.”

Kharge added that while the Ministry’s contract applies only to this edition of the Bengaluru Open, it could be extended at a later date.

Sundar Raju stated that it would cost around 1.5 crore to host this tournament. "The ranking points on offer is equal to that of a $1,25,000 event, as the hospitality expenses are being borne by the organisers,” Raju said.

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