New Delhi: Indian tennis players, who are already struggling to get a home tournament, heaved a sigh of relief that the country's only ATP World Tour event has not moved out of the country.
IMG (Reliance), owners of the ATP 250 tournament, ended their contract with the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association(TNTA) to take Chennai Open out of the southern city and signed a deal with Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association.
They have rebranded the tournament as Maharashtra Open, which will now be played in Pune from 2018 till 2022.
Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, who won the 21st and last edition of Chennai Open with compatriot Rohan Bopanna, said he's happy that India still has a tournament.
"It's sad that it's not in Chennai anymore. It is what it is. But I am excited to play in Pune as always. India has one tournament a year which I consider a home event so I'm happy that it's still in our country," the Chennai lad told PTI.
"It would be nice to see more such level events in India through the year to help us all go higher in the rankings because playing at home is a big advantage. Of course this would only be possible if the All India Tennis Association(AITA) has any intent of creating a better system of tournament for the players," the southpaw added with a tinge of sarcasm.
India had hosted four ATP Challengers in 2015 but in 2016 only two were held — Delhi Open and Pune Challenger.
This year not a single Challenger has been hosted in the country so far and half the season has gone, making life tough for the players who have to travel abroad to earn points.
The Delhi Open, usually held in February, is also not in the calender with Delhi Lawn Tennis Association failing to raise funds through sponsorship for the $50,000 event.
AITA has expressed inability to raise funds and sought financial support from the government but the sports ministry snubbed the Federation, saying that it was their responsibility to raise funds and organise the tournaments.
Saketh Myneni, who has returned to the circuit after a left foot injury and a shoulder issue, said, "Sorry to hear that Chennai won't be the venue for the only ATP tournament in India but glad at least it didn't leave the country."
N Sriram Balaji, who is making good progress as a doubles player now, said he had "great memories in Chennai".
"It was my first ATP tour event in my career and my home event as well. Of course it's a big disappointment that the tournament has been taken away from Chennai. It has been there for 21 years. Pune is a nice city too. I loved playing there but it had become a tradition to have the ATP event in Chennai.
"I guess if there was another city which I would've loved to play, it would be Pune because of the tennis loving people and the crowd Pune can gather for tennis events. Hope it stays like that," he said.
Updated Date: Jul 21, 2017 07:29 AM