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‘Challengers at home perfect for Indians’

sports Updated: Feb 03, 2014 01:50 IST
Deepti Patwardhan
Deepti Patwardhan
Hindustan Times
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After a weekend of success and adulation, the Indian players will return to their regular day jobs from Monday: that of being tennis professionals.

The Davis Cup tie against Chinese Taipei was the precursor to an important few weeks on the tour, which will see the players compete in three back-to-back ATP Challenger events in the country, beginning with the $50,000 Chennai leg on Monday. That will be followed by another $50,000 tourney in Kolkata and finish with the $100,000 event in New Delhi.

Not that the players are complaining. “Ideally I would have liked to have two weeks of action and then a week of rest before the third event,” said Yuki Bhambri, who takes on Taipei’s Liang-Chi Huang in the first round. “But three Challengers are still better than none.” This is because India haven’t played host to a Challenger-level tournament since 2008.

The Challengers fall somewhere between the ATP Tour events and the ITF Futures, which is the lowest rung in professional tennis. They might prove to be perfect stepping stone for Indian youngsters, for whom the tour events are far too big a step. Moreover, it is economical for the players, who zip around the world and time zones in search of precious ranking points. “Three weeks in India means our travel expense is cut short,” said Myneni.

That may not have been the prime concern for Somdev Devvarman, but the 28-year-old is set to make his Challenger ‘debut’ on Indian soil. “I don’t think I have ever played a Challenger in India,” said Devvarman, who learnt the ropes of pro circuit on the US Challenger circuit. He is the top seed in Chennai and is set to clash against Ramkumar Ramanathan in the opener on Tuesday.