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Chennai Open ATP challenger set to commence; Ramkumar, Mukund and Basilashvili – the main draw wildcards

Ramkumar Ramanathan, Mukund Sasikumar and Nikoloz Basilashvili have been awarded main draw wildcards for the sixth edition of the Chennai Open ATP Challenger, set to be held at the SDAT Tennis Stadium in Nungambakkam from February 4 to 11.

Ramkumar (Word No. 461), who will feature in India’s Davis Cup World Group I play-off tie against Pakistan in Islamabad on February 3 and 4, and Mukund (World No. 551) are India’s second and third-highest ranked male players behind Sumit Nagal. Georgia’s Basilashvili is a former World No. 16.

Nagal is at a new career-high of 121 after reaching the second round of the Australian Open. He became the first Indian singles player to qualify for the main draw of a Grand Slam since 2021.

In the first round of the main draw, he defeated 31st-seeded Kazakh Alexander Bublik. The last Indian man to beat a seeded player at a Major was Ramesh Krishnan, who knocked out the then World No. 1 Mats Wilander in the second round in Melbourne.

Nagal, seeded second behind 20-year-old Luca Nardi, has a decent chance to break into Top 100 if he manages to repeat his semifinal-finish from last year in Chennai and backs it up with deep runs in the other two ATP Challenger 100 events in Bengaluru (February 12-18) and Pune (February 19-25) this month.

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“Sumit has got a good opportunity here to make a run to the semifinals or the finals and next thing you know, he is into the Top 100 and gets into all the Grand Slams. Once you get into the Grand Slams, every time you win a match or two, you are going to stay there,” said Vijay Amritraj, President of the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association, in a press conference at the Madras Cricket Club on Thursday.

“It is often harder to get there (into the Top 100) than to stay there because you have access to more points once you get there. So, events like these in India are critical for him to make full use of it,” added Amritraj, who was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame (contributor category) in December 2023.

Qualifying round wildcards have been awarded to Tamil Nadu players – Manish Sureshkumar, Abhinav Sanjeev Shanmugam, Rethin Pranav – and reigning national champion Siddarth Vishwakarma.

The winner will receive 100 ATP Rankings points along with USD 18,230 in prize money while the runner-up will get 60 ranking points and USD 10,730.

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