Indian youngsters' chance to shine at big stage
Pune: Indian youngsters, led by Yuki Bhambri, will look to exploit the familiar home conditions and start the new season on a high even as Wimbledon finalist and world number six Marin Cilic will start as favourite at the inaugural Tata Open Maharashtra, beginning here on Monday.
It will be easier said than done for the home players since there can't be drastic progress in their game overnight but Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan did enjoy stupendous success against top players in 2017, raising hopes of a strong show here.
Only these two Indians are featuring in the singles draw at the event, which moved out of Chennai due to financial issues. Much more is expected from the doubles draw, which will have four Indian pairs competing.
Bhambri has enjoyed an unbeaten run on tennis courts at Balewadi Sports Complex since October 2015. The 25-year-old has won 10 matches here on the trot, pocketing two Challenger titles but the level of opponents will be completely different at the ATP 250 event, which will have five top-50 players.
The Delhi player could not have asked for an easier draw as he opens his 2018 campaign against local boy Arjun Kadhe, who has returned to professional circuit only this year after completing graduation degree from University of Oklahoma and is ranked below 600.
For long, India has been looking for a singles player who can compete at the big stage and inspire new generations. When Bhambri won the 2009 junior Australian Open and was ranked world number one, a lot of expectations were riding on him. But those expectations did not materialise.