India’s Bhambri, Ramanathan off to winning starts in qualifiers at 5th Tata Open Maharashtra

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Indian players Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan kickstarted their campaign at the fifth edition of Tata Open Maharashtra with contrasting victories in the singles qualifying opening round at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune on Saturday.

While Bhambri dominated Diego Hidalgo by 6-2, 6-2 in the lopsided match, Chennai-based Ramanathan, who entered the draw as a wildcard, registered a sensational come-from-behind 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory against Otto Virtanen.

South Asia’s only ATP 250 event, Tata Open Maharashtra is being conducted by the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA) in association with the Government of Maharashtra for the fifth year in Pune.

Meanwhile, other three Indians in action—Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Sidharth Rawat and Aditya Balsekar suffered defeats in their respective matches. While Gunneswaran went down fighting 7-6 (6), 3-6, 7-5 against the former Word No. 45 Maximilian Marterer, Rawat made Zdenek Kolar work hard before losing the match by 6-1, 6-7 (4), 6-1. Balsekar was defeated by Flavio Cobolli 6-3, 6-0.

In other first-round matches, last year’s semi-finallist Elias Ymer made progress after his opponent Miljan Zekic retired. Mattia Bellucci beat Vladyslav Orlov 6-4, 6-4 and Nikola Milojevic also thrashed Nicholas David Ionel by 6-3, 6-2 in a similar fashion.

Second and final round of the qualifiers will be played on Sunday as Bhambri, Ramanathan and others will look to win and secure the main draw spots for themselves.

Bhambri and Ramanathan will take on Ymer and Bellucci respectively in the final round.

The prestigious tournament, owned by IMG and managed by RISE Worldwide, is sponsored by Tata Motors.

Earlier in the day, the 15-year-old rising India star Manas Dhamne was handed a main draw wildcard in the singles as the draws were announced. The Pune-born tennis prodigy Dhamne will be seen competing in the main draw alongside the global tennis stars including world number 17 Marin Cilic.

The main draw will take place from January 2 to 7.

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