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Home News Tata Open Maharashtra: Top tennis stars to watch out for

Tata Open Maharashtra: Top tennis stars to watch out for

The 30-year-old Prajnesh Gunneswaran alongside Sumit Nagal and Ramkumar Ramanathan feature in the list of qualifying.

South Asia’s only ATP Tour Tennis Tournament and India’s one of the oldest running tournaments will be back with some exciting tennis action as the third edition of Tata Open Maharashtra is scheduled to take place at Mhalunge Balewadi Stadium in Pune from February 3 to 9. The 30-year-old Prajnesh Gunneswaran alongside Sumit Nagal and Ramkumar Ramanathan feature in the list of qualifying, which was released by the ATP. However, World No. 122 Prajnesh, No. 130 Nagal will look to make it to the main draw. The qualifying rounds will be played on February 1 and 2. Serbian star Viktor Troicki and Netherlands’ Robin Haase will be the star attraction at the qualifying rounds. Here is a look at the world’s top tennis stars who will showcase their skills during India’s premier ATP 250 event. 

Benoit Paire (France, current world rank: 24)

Benoit Paire
Image: Tata Open Maharashtra

After missing out on the title in the last two editions the French star Benoit Paire is all set to take aim once again at the title at Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune. Paire reached semi-finals and quarter-finals in 2018 and 2019 edition of the tournament respectively. Having won two titles in 2019—in Lyon and Marrakech– and finishing as runners-up at ASB Classic in Auckland, Paire has been in sizzling form. Paire, who achieved career-best rankings of 18 in 2016, started playing tennis at the age of six with his father who used to at a small tennis club near their home. 

Though he didn’t have much success on the junior circuit. However, Paire did well in Futures and Challenger events as he won two Challenger events in 2011 and broke into the top 100. In 2012 he reached his maiden main tour final at the Serbia Open (losing to Andreas Seppi). Paire earned 26 match wins on the year and finished ranked inside the top 50.

Paire is known as “La Tige” — French for “The Stalk” — because of his tall and thin frame. Paire is very good friends with Swiss player Stan Wawrinka. Both regularly send messages to each other on Twitter and often practice together. In the 2013 Chennai event, they teamed up to win the doubles title.

Ivo Karlovic (Croatia, current world ranking 123)

Ivo Karlovic
Image: Tata Open Maharashtra

Croatia’s ace tennis player Ivo Karlovic will be eager to complete his unfinished job of the last edition when he will enter the court during the upcoming third edition of the Tata Open Maharashtra. Karlovic suffered a 7-6 (4), 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5) hard-fought defeat at the hands of South African Kevin Anderson in final at last edition of the tournament. With the appearance in the final, Karlovic became the oldest player at 39 to play tour-level final since 1977 when 43-year-old Ken Rosewall won in Hong Kong. 

The six feet 11 inch tall, who held a record for the fastest serve in professional tennis — measured at 251 km/h (156 mph) — before being surpassed by John Isner in 2016, will take aim at the title this time. Karlovic, who achieved career-best 14th rank in 2008, has so far made, has several records to his name in the tennis world. Karlovic holds the record for the most aces in tennis history with 13,060 aces in 662 matches.

Philipp Kohlschreiber (Germany, current world rank 74)

The German ace Philipp Kohlschreiber will be making his maiden appearance at the Tata Open Maharashtra. Kohlschreiber, who had achieved a career-best ranking of 16 in 2012, has so far won eight singles and seven doubles titles on the ATP World Tour.

In 2007, he won his first career title in Munich (Monte Carlo Masters) to become the first German player to win the event since Michael Stich in 1994. Kohlschreiber has been known as a giant killer as he has notched up victories over tennis greats Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. In 2009, during the French Open, Kohlschreiber defeated world No. 4, Novak Djokovic which caused major upset of the tournament. In September, he hired Murray former coach Miles Maclagan. In 2012 he reached the semi-finals of Gerry Weber Open, defeating Rafael Nadal. 

Kohlschreiber is only one of three Germans to have won 400 or more matches in the Open Era. The German has been in red hot form this year having won the ATP Challenger tournament in Canberra earlier this month. This is his first trophy since 2017 when he prevailed at the ATP Tour event in Kitzbuhel. Moreover, it was his first hard-court title in 12 years and first at the Challenger level since Reunion Island in 2005.

Kwon Soon-woo (South Korea, current world rank 83)

Kwon Soon Woo
Image: Tata Open Maharashtra

Kwon Soon-woo is a highest-ranked South Korean tennis player, who achieved career-high ATP singles ranking of 81 in September 2019 and currently ranked 83rd. After breaking into Top 100, Soon-woo now aims to get into the Top 10. The 22-year-old, who is the only South Korean competing in big tournaments, has so far appeared in four Grand Slams — Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open — since making debut in Australian Open in 2018 after winning Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off in Zhuhai. He had fruitful 2019 in which he qualified for six events including Wimbledon and the US Open.

The right-hander will be back in Pune first time after appearing in the 2017 edition of the tournament where he suffered defeat in the qualifier 1 against Brazil’s Joao Souza. Soon-woo had been in good form in 2019. Soon-woo earned his first ATP Tour win in July last year at the BB&T Atlanta Open when he battled past against India’s Prajnesh Gunneswaran. The South Korean, who won Challenger titles at Yokohama and Seoul in 2019, idolises Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal since childhood and, dreams of competing against these ace tennis stars in future.

The talented youngster, who had achieved No. 46 in junior rankings in 2015, played exclusively in Asia and Australia on ITF Junior Circuit. He ended junior career on 12-match and 22-set winning streaks. He wanted to be a footballer until he started playing tennis at the age of 10. His favourite surface is hard and favourite shots are down-the-line forehand and drop shot. His father, Younghun, who teaches geography in high school, is also a talented amateur tennis player.

Ricardas Berankis (Lithuania, current world rank 68)

Ricardas Berankis
Image: Tata Open Maharashtra

This Lithuanian tennis ace created history in 2010 when he broke into the Top 100 to become first-ever tennis player in Lithuania’s history to enter the ATP Top 100. Berankis’s father Genadijus is a taxi driver in Vilnius. Berankis, who achieved career-high ranking 50 in 2016, started playing tennis at the age of two, when his older sister took him to her tennis practices.

Berankis, who is currently ranked 68 in the world and has won 14 Challenger and Futures finals so far, will be making his first appearance in the Tata Open Maharashtra during upcoming third edition of the tournament. The 2019 happened to be glorious for the 29-year-old as he recorded four Challenger series win at France, South Korea and two in Canada. He finished 2007 as World No. 1 junior and on a 24-1 run with 4 titles, including US Open and Orange Bowl.

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