A lack of wildcards in the hands of Tamil Nadu Tennis Association is the reason why India’s most seasoned singles campaigners, Somdev Devvarman and Saketh Myneni, will have to go through qualifiers in the upcoming Chennai Open starting January 4.
The hosts of the ATP 250 event, the TNTA, say that they had just one singles’ wildcard in their hand this time and the rest were decided by IMG, who are co-owners of the tournament.
At the biggest tennis event of the country, India’s top singles players are expected to be in the singles main draw through wildcards if not by direct entry but this year only Ramkumar Ramanathan has been awarded the lucky entry.
Eyebrows were raised when Russia’s Karen Kachanov (ranked 152) and Andrey Rublev (ranked 172) were handed the singles wild card along with Ramkumar.
While Saketh is ranked 170th, Somdev is a few rungs below at 177th in the ATP charts.
Yuki Bhambri was the only one who managed a direct entry due to his ranking of 93 in the ATP list but he pulled out after failing to recover from an elbow injury.
It leaves only talented youngster Ramkumar, who has been supported by Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA) for many years now, in the main draw.
And it will be the first year when Somdev, who is struggling for form for long, has to take the Qualifying route.
“The ATP sanctions is owned by IMG. Wild Cards are mutually decided between IMG and TNTA. Some years TNTA gets two and other years IMG gets two. It’s a collaborative relationship. TNTA has all the Wild Cards in doubles and Qualies this year,” TNTA Vice President Karti Chidambaram told PTI.
The tournament, now in its 21st edition, is run by IMG Reliance.