World number 17 Marin Cilic will headline a strong singles field at the fifth edition of the Tata Open Maharashtra, beginning here on December 31. Besides Cilic, 16 other top-100 players will take part in South Asia's only ATP 250 event.
The 2014 US Open Champion Cilic has won this tournament twice, in 2009 and 2010, and also reached semi-finals in 2018. Apart from Cilic, the singles main draw will feature five other top-50 players -- Netherlands' Botic van de Zandschulp (ranked 35), Finland's Emil Ruusuvuori (40), Argentine Sebastian Baez (43), American Jenson Brooksby (48) and Slovakia's Alex Molcan (50).
The highly competitive field also consists of 11 other top-100 players with the cut-off standing at 115 for direct entry. Zandschulp competed in all four Majors in the 2022 season, losing the Wimbledon pre-quarterfinals and the Roland Garros Round of 32 to Rafael Nadal. He also ended as a runner-up at the Munich ATP 250, his best show of the season.
Last edition's runner-up Ruusuvuori made good progress through the year, taking three wins over top-20 players while Baez featured in three ATP 250 events in the first half of the season, winning in Estoril and finishing runner-up in Bastad and Santiago. Brooksby also had reasonable success as he reached two finals (Dallas and Atlanta) and would look to go the full distance in Pune.
Molcan, a southpaw, managed to reach finals in Lyon and Marrakech, where he recorded a stunning win over top-10 Felix Auger-Aliassime. The Tata Open Maharashtra, owned by IMG and managed by RISE, will be conducted by the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association for the fifth year in Pune.
The last two editions of the tournament were held in the first week of February. However, now the players can gear up for the season's first Grand Slam Australian Open, by competing in Pune. The qualifying event will begin on December 31 while the main draw will be played from January 2-7.