Mumbai: Ramkumar Ramanathan was on Wednesday handed a wild card for the men's singles main draw of the Tata Open Maharashtra and the organisers may grant a similar entry to veteran Leander Paes in the men's doubles event.
India's top two singles players, Prajnesh Gunnewaran and rising star Sumit Nagal, who claimed fame by taking a set off Roger Federer at the 2019 US Open, have entered the main draw on their own.
"We are happy to award the wildcard to Ramkumar who has been fighting hard and we hope that he will be able to make the most of his inclusion in the main draw. We have now Top-3 Indian players (Prajnesh, Nagal and Ramanathan) to present strong home challenge in this tournament," said Prashant Sutar, Tournament Director of Tata Open Maharashtra.
"It's amazing to see two Indians getting direct entry into the main draw. I'm sure they will do well against world's top tennis players. We have passionate crowd in Pune so it's always nice to see Indian player competing in this tournament. We have been organising this event with the sole intention that our Indian players benefit the most," he added.
For 25-year-old Ramkumar, who has sipped to 185 in the ranking ladder, will make his third appearance at India's only ATP 250 event in Pune from February 3.
"There are three singles wild cards for the main draw of which we have announced one for Ramkumar. We are yet to decide on the other two wild-card entrants," said Tournament Director Prashant Sutar.
"First time it has happened that two India players have made to the main draw of the tournament with a direct entry. We wish that an Asian or an Indian wins this tournament," he added.
According to Sutar, legendary Paes, who has announced that 2020 will be the final season of his career, has also made a request for a wild card entry into the men's doubles event and it will be considered in a "positive" manner.
MSLTA President Bharat Oza said they have received requests for wildcards from players who lost early at the Australian Open and they will soon make a call.
Surprisingly Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan, who won this tournament last year together, are not teaming up this year. Bopanna is also seeking a wild card entry with local lad Arjun Kadhe and so is Purav Raja with Ramkumar.
Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and N Balaji have also sought a wild card entries, making it tough for the organisers to take a call since there are only two wild card entries for the doubles event.
The third edition of India's one of the oldest running tournaments will see the world's top tennis star, such as Benoit Paire and Ivo Karlovic, competing for the prestigious title. The qualifier rounds will be played on February 1-2, with the only South Asian ATP Tour tournament, is scheduled to take place at Mhalunge Balewadi stadium in Pune from February 3 to 9.
(With inputs from PTI)