Pune, Jan 27 (IANS): Top-ranked Indian player Ramkumar Ramanathan, ranked 182 in World Rankings, was on Thursday handed a wildcard into the singles main draw of the 2022 Tata Open Maharashtra ATP tennis tournament, which will be held here from Jan 31 to Feb 6.
Ramkumar had won his maiden ATP Challenger title in Manama, Bahrain in November last year and regained his position in the Top-200. In 2017, the lanky Indian had upstaged then World No. 8 Dominic Thiem in straight sets during his first meeting with a Top-10 player.
Ramkumar will be returning to Pune for his fourth appearance at South Asia's only ATP 250 tournament, organised by Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA), the organisers informed in a release on Thursday.
"It's always great to see Indians starting directly in the main draw and we are happy to give the first wildcard to Ramkumar. He has been doing well recently and is a popular face in the tournament," Prashant Sutar, Tournament Director, was quoted as saying in a release on Thursday.
"It's our commitment at this tournament to promote Indians and provide them a platform. We have witnessed some good performances from our players in the past editions and hope the trend continues this year as well," he said.
With this wildcard, the 27-year-old from Chennai has joined compatriot Yuki Bhambri in the main draw.
The Tata Open Maharashtra, one of the country's oldest sporting events, consists of a strong line-up this year with top names from the tennis world fighting it out for the prestigious title, including World No. 15 Aslan Karatsev, teenage sensation Lorenzo Musetti and defending champion Jiri Vesely among seven Top-100 players.
"I'm extremely happy that tournament organisers are helping me to get into the main draw with a wildcard. The field is quite tough with a lot of good players and it's not going to be easy but I'm going to give my best efforts and hope to have a good run. It was very challenging to not have Tata Open Maharashtra and other tournaments in India last year," said an elated Ramkumar, who will arrive in the city on Friday.
"These events are good for Indians. Missing one year of Tata Open Maharashtra didn't feel that good but I'm happy that it came back now. I'm really looking forward to it,"
MSLTA Secretary Sunder Iyer said: "I have followed Ramkumar's career very closely, he has had some good performances over the years. He was also part of the Davis Cup team. The way he has performed in the recent past, I believe he will make it count this year."
Apart from singles, Ramkumar will also be a part of the doubles main draw with veteran Rohan Bopanna in a week-long fourth edition of the event.