'Guess he is a man of his word': Tata Open tournament director reveals Novak Djokovic conversation on Pune appearance
After a rather successful 5th Tata Open, which will stage the final on Saturday, tournament director Prashant Sutar admitted that he hopes of a Novak Djokovic appearance at the event after revealing his conversation with him at French Open.
The ATP 250 event in Pune isn't quite the choice for most players on the tour. Despite it being pushed back to its original slot, before the Australian Open, compared to the previous two editions, it proves easier for players to play 250 events like Adelaide International 1 & 2 as preparation for the season's first Grand Slam. Yet, Tata Open Maharashtra had managed to draw a strong player's field for the fifth edition. 2014 US Open winner Marin Cilic led the singles draw and directed considerable amount of crowd towards Pune's Balewadi Stadium in his one-match appearance before he withdrew citing knee injury. Meanwhile, Rajeev Ram, who recently grabbed headlines after becoming the oldest player to take the world no.1 ranking, led the doubles field. And after a rather successful event, which will stage the final on Saturday, tournament director Prashant Sutar admitted that he hopes of a Novak Djokovic appearance at the event after revealing his conversation with him at French Open.
The Big Three have all played in India. But unlike Rafael Nadal, neither Djokovic nor Roger Federer played a Challenger or an ATP tour event in the country. All three were indeed part of the International Tennis Premier League back in 2014, but Nadal has also played in the ATP 250 event in India, which was back then hosted in Chennai. He had even reached the final in 2008, where he lost to Mikhail Youzhny in straight sets.
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With Nadal having ticked that box and Federer retired, Sutar has his eyes on a Djokovic appearance in the Pune tournament.
"The main issue is that they play in the Australian Open. Novak is very particular about his schedule and what he eats and what he does. And I don't know if unvaccinated foreigners are allowed in India. Are they?" he said in an interaction with the media at Tata Open on Friday, as he laughed.
Sutar further revealed that he has has been in conversation with the 21-time Grand Slam winner over the last five years, the last being at the 2022 French Open, saying that Djokovic has given him a word that he would "one day" play in Tata Open.
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"Novak was on our top list. I will not disclose the figures, but whatever we would have spent we would have recovered in terms of other revenues. He said that if he wouldn't have gone to Australia, he would have seriously considered coming to Pune. I had met him personally in French Open. I sat and discussed with him and his agent. I have been meeting him for the last five years and he said that one day he will definitely come to Pune. I guess he is a man of his words and one day we will see him play his tournament," he revealed.
Having got his visa ban overturned, Djokovic is presently gearing up to claim his 10th Australian Open title. He is now part of the Adelaide International 1 event where he has made the quarters.