ATP Chennai Open shifts to Pune; to be named Maharashtra Open

ATP Chennai Open (Image credit-karupuu.blogspot.com)

Kolkata: The Chennai Open, which is India’s only ATP event would now be shifted to Pune and would be known as the Maharashtra Open after the owners IMG-Reliance signed a five year deal with the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA).

The contract which was extended till 2019 in the , of the year was cancelled by IMG (R) as the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA) confirmed this development.

Hiten Joshi, the CEO of the TNTA had earlier spelled out that the lack of sponsorship could be a road block for the ATP 250 tournament to be held in Chennai, which was finally shifted to Pune.

After the tournament this year in January, the TNTA had informed IMG-Reliance that Aircel would not continue to be the title sponsors as their telecom operations would merge with Anil Ambani’s Reliance.

The TNTA had told IMG-Reliance that they would find a title sponsor for the next edition of the Chennai Open and would also raise the funds with the help of the Tamil Nadu government and other local organisations in a bid to fulfill all the obligations for conducting the tournament in Chennai till 2019.

In a press release Joshi confirmed, “TNTA has just received an e-mail from IMGR cancelling the contract to conduct the ATP event in 2018 & 19. TNTA will consult its legal counsel and take appropriate action.”

Nonetheless, they have conveyed their best wishes for the tournament to be held in Pune. The IMG also thanked the TNTA and the Tamil Nadu government for their efforts in making the tournament a, ‘grand success so far.’

“We would like to thank everyone in Tamil Nadu, especially our innumerable fans, the Tamil Nadu government and the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association for making the Chennai Open such a grand success,” they said.

The cost of organising the first edition the Maharashtra Open is USD 550,000 which is USD 44, 270 more than the Chennai Open.

Not only the venue, but the conditions too would change as Chennai is on the hotter side while the high altitude in Pune would make the conditions relatively colder.

Sunder Iyer the Secretary General of the MSLTA however felt that this wouldn’t influence the players’ decision to opt for the event.

He said, “Humidity will be less than Chennai in Pune in January but the surface of our courts will be similar to Australian Open. We will prepare it accordingly.”

Also, many players prefer direct flights but Pune doesn’t have one, both to and from Melbourne. On asked as to whether it would be an issue, Iyer said, “Mumbai is just two hours drive from here and there are many flights from Europe, Dubai to Pune. Those who want to come and play here, will come.”

This decision was welcomed by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who hoped that they would bring greater success to the tournament with every passing year.

He said, “We welcome the world class ATP tournament to our state. We are happy to host the Maharashtra Open and sure that we will take it to newer heights by bringing in an elite field every year.”

An IMG spokesperson too felt along the same lines as he said, “We look forward to similar love from tennis fans in not just in Pune and Maharashtra but in every part of the country. We have created a tennis legacy and have also provided our young players the opportunity to not only play against the best but to also pick up crucial points in world ranking system.”

Prashant Sutar, the tournament director said, “We have the best tennis infrastructure in the country. We will strive our best to make the world’s best players and our own, feel at home.”

In this year’s competition, Spain’s Roberto Bautista-Agut clinched the singles title while the final of the men’s doubles was an all-Indian one as the duo of Rohan Bopanna and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan went on to beat Purav Raja and Divij Sharan to win the title.

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