Indian Davis Cupper Sumit Nagal, the lone Indian performer in the Current Challenger Series event, and local star Arjun Kadhe have been awarded wildcards for the main draw of the PMR Open ATP Challenger 100 Mens International Tennis Championship.
The premier high-level ATP Challenger, which is sponsored by Pune Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (PMRDA) under a five-year agreement, will be played from Sunday (Feb 26) to Sunday (March 5), and has attracted players from 25 countries. The Pune event, organised by Maharashtra State Lawn tennis Association (MSLTA) at the Balewadi Tennis Stadium, is the third of a series of ATP Challenger 100 events held in India. The previous tournaments were held in Chennai and Bengaluru.
Rahul Mahiwal (IAS) PMRDA Commissioner said that the PMR Challenger is another feather in the cap of the Pune tennis season, "We at PMRDA are thrilled to support such a huge international event which goes a long way in promoting the image of the Pune Metropolis Region universally".
"Providing international competition to Indian players and also promotion of Sports has been one of the main reasons for PMRDA getting involved and supporting this event," he was quoted as saying in a release.
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The prize money for the event will be USD 130000 (Rs 1.06 crore). The winner will receive 100 ATP ranking points and USD 17650 (Rs.14.47 lakh) and the runner-up 60 ATP points and USD 10380 (Rs.8.5 lakh) the first-round loser receives USD1270 (Rs.1.04 lakh). The qualifiers will receive an incentive of USD 380 (Rs.31,000).
The Hon Secretary of MSLTA and Tournament Director Sunder Iyer said, "We are hopeful that the PMR open Challenger will benefit our players immensely with valuable ATP points thus helping in improving their rankings. India has been able to offer a record number of 700 ATP points to our players from January to March this year".
With players from 25 countries, the competition is expected to be stiff and of high quality.
Prashant Sutar, chairman of MSLTA, said a Challenger was running successfully in Pune for five years in a row previously, "We were thinking of reviving the Challenger event as it is the most beneficial for Indian Players to gain valuable points. Organising the PMR Challenger event is a continuation of a grand vision of MSLTA for tennis development and promotion in Maharashtra, said Sutar.
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The main draw consists of 32 players -- 23 direct acceptances, 3 wild cards, and 6 qualifiers. Qualifying consists of 24 players with 4 wild cards.
The 21-year-old world No, 108 Tsen Cheun Hsin from Taipei will lead the tough field. A former winner in Pune at KPIT Challenger, James Duckworth of Australia (ranked 137), 26-year-old Sebastian Ofner of Austria (ranked 152), the 27-year-old Peniston Ryan of Great Britain (ranked 159). The talented 19-year-old Luca Nardi of Italy (ranked 164), and Flavio Cobolli of Italy (ranked 172) are the probable seeds of the event