Mumbai: Indian tennis player Rohan Bopanna and his partner Arjun Kadhe were on Friday handed wild card entries in the doubles category at the third edition of Tata Open Maharashtra, scheduled here from February 3 to 9.
The announcement was made during a pre-tournament press conference.
The doubles world No. 38 Bopanna, who clinched the doubles title in the last edition along with Divij Sharan, will lead the Indian challenge in South Asia's only ATP Tour tournament. This time, he will partner with local boy Arjun Kadhe.
Sharan, who will partner with Artem Sitak, has already made the main draw with a direct entry.
Kadhe also received wild card entry into the singles main draw. The third wild card has been awarded to young promising Indian player Sasikumar Mukund.
"It's amazing to have Bopanna back in the tournament. He clinched the title in the last edition and we hope he will dish out impressive show with Kadhe this year too," Tournament Director Prashant Sutar said.
With Kadhe and Mukund's inclusion, five Indian players will now feature in the 28-player singles main draw with 19 making direct entry.
Earlier, Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Sumit Nagal already made it to the main draw with direct entries while Ramkumar Ramanathan was given wild card. Two more players will come in as special exempts and four will come through the qualification round.
"This will be the first time that there are so many Indian players in the min draw, which is a great opportunity for them as one of the primary goals of hosting this ATP Tour event in India has been to provide Indian players with a platform to not only get exposure but also help earn crucial ranking points," Sutar said.
"We have also announced wild card entries to India' Saket Myneni and French Open semi-finalist Earnest Gulbis in the singles qualifiers," he added.
The third edition of India' premier 250 event will see the highest prize money in the tournament's history.
"The upcoming edition will also see the total prize money of USD 546,355, which is the highest ever. A decade before, in 2010, it was USD 398,250.
"We are also introducing shot clocks for the first time in this tournament," said Sunder Iyer, MSLTA Secretary.
The shot clocks will see counting 25 seconds allowed between the points. It was trialled at the Next Gen ATP Finals in 2007 and was also used at the 2018 US Open.
The third edition of the tournament also promises an exceptional experience for the spectators and budding tennis stars with the introduction of LED backdrop at the court.
The main draw will be announced on Saturday. The qualification rounds will be played on Saturday and Sunday.