Alison Lee: Maharashtra Open should focus on 10-40 ranked players

With Maharashtra Open not featuring a single top-10 player, ATP's Alison Lee, has suggested the tournament ought to focus on pursuing players ranked 10 to 40.

Benoit Paire, ranked 19th, is the top-ranked player in this year's Maharashtra Open.   -  R. Ragu

In light of the Tata Open Maharashtra not featuring a single top-10 player for the first time since 2003, Alison Lee, the ATP’s executive vice president, International Group, said on Thursday that it would have been prudent for the organisers to have pursued players ranked 10 to 40.

With the ATP Cup taking up the coveted start-of-the-season slot and Doha 250, with its hefty prize purse, running concurrently, Pune had to push its dates by a month.

“This is not necessarily a bad week,” Lee said on Thursday. “Montpellier and Cordoba this week have very good player fields. They’ve been in those weeks for a long time and know they have to go after players fairly aggressively. The tournament director here [Prashant Sutar] acknowledges that they didn't know what to really expect coming in. They have seen that they have to go after other top players or the rising stars.

“I think everyone has to manage their expectations,” she added. “Getting top-10 players is very difficult. You look at Roger [Federer], Rafa [Nadal] and Novak [Djokovic]. How many 250s did they play last year? I’m not saying it would be impossible to get a top-10 player, but I think the focus should be on those from 10 to 40.”

But she acknowledged that while a comprehensive review has been planned for 2023, there could be changes to the calendar before that. “The 2021 calendar is already published and Pune will be in the same week. But 2022 is not set and I know Doha is very keen to move out of week one. So while Pune is in this week now, it may not be here forever.”

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