Indian tennis players Sumit Nagal and Arjun Kadhe were on Friday handed wildcards in the singles and doubles main draw respectively in the fifth Tata Open Maharashtra to be held in Pune from December 31 to January 7.
While qualifying rounds of South Asia's only ATP 250 event will be held at the Balewadi Stadium on Saturday and Sunday, the main draw will start on January 2. The 25-year-old Nagal is the second wildcard entrant in the singles main draw after Mukund Sasikumar.
Nagal featured in the French Open and US Open qualifiers earlier this year and also reached the quarter-finals of an ATP Challenger event in Germany in August. The singles field will witness 17 top-100 players, including world no. 17 Marin Cilic.
"This is the happiest week (of the year) for Indian tennis players because it is the biggest tennis tournament we have in India and we all get a chance to play. Thank you everyone for giving me the opportunity to play here," Nagal said in a statement issued by the organisers.
Pune-born Kadhe will play alongside Brazil's Fernando Romboli. The duo finished runners-up at the ATP Challenger event in Turkey in September.
"I strongly feel a tournament of this magnitude is simply not possible without strong government support and we are fortunate enough to get that support," said tournament director and chairman of Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association Prashant Sutar.
"Last year's tournament was well appreciated by the ATP as we conducted it without any issues despite Covid challenges. We have one of the best fields this year and many players have decided to come again and again to Pune and it's becoming their favourite destination. We keep growing this tournament every year."
Three-time Grand Slam champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, and two-time champion Rohan Bopanna will be among the key attractions in doubles.