Maharashtra Open aims to pitch for Djokovic, Murray in 2019

Tournament Director Prashant Sutar also reveals that the seating capacity at the venue — Balewadi Stadium in Pune — is being increased by 25 per cent.

Andy Murray (left), Novak Djokovic “and a few from the top four” would be targeted by the organisers.   -  Getty Images

Maharashtra Open, which has replaced Chennai Open as India’s only ATP World Tour event, seems to be in able hands to escalate, expand and earn the magnum opus tag for the future. The idea of the authorities is to bridge the gap between Indian spectators and Grand Slam stars.

Keeping the fans in mind, the capacity at the Balewadi Stadium is being increased. “We thought the current capacity would be quite less for a tournament as big as the Maharashtra Open. The seating capacity is being increased by 25 per cent,” Prashant Sutar, Tournament Director, told Sportstar.

“There will fan activities at the venue, as well as social media, during the course of the tournament,” he added.

Targeting top players

Sutar also revealed the top players he targeted this year. “We were talking to Novak Djokovic and hoping he would start from here, after coming out of injury. But he was committed to the Abu Dhabi exhibition event. Even Andy Murray wasn’t sure when he would recover from his injury. Our aim is to pitch for Djokovic, Murray and a few from the top four in 2019.

Read - Maharashtra Open: 'Brand Chennai Open helped bag top players'

“There are people in India who cannot afford to travel abroad to watch Grand Slams. Here, if we get the players, they can watch them by paying Rs 500 to Rs 1,000,” he reasoned.

The confidence to reach the stars is valid to an extent. The tournament is backed by the government of Maharashtra. “Our honourable chief minister Devendra Fadnavis recently said that he wants to conduct this tournament forever; that’s his commitment. His team is going out of their way to make this a grand success. It is their baby,” informed Sutar.

Read: Cilic, Anderson to headline inaugural Maharashtra Open

As far as the sport is concerned, there won’t be anything new as it will follow the ATP rules and regulations. Sutar is more keen to provide the best hospitality and security — for players and fans alike. Bollywood celebrities are expected to grace the event too.

The announcement of the wild card entrants will be made on Saturday.

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