Aryna Sabalenka heads field for Mumbai Open WTA event
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Aryna Sabalenka heads field for Mumbai Open WTA event

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus had stunned US Open winner Sloane Stephens in the Fed Cup final loss to USA. She will be the top seed in the $125,000 Mumbai Open WTA event

tennis Updated: Nov 13, 2017 22:09 IST
Aryna Sabalenka,Mumbai Open,Sloane Stephens
Aryna Sabalenka (right) is ranked 78th in the world and is the top seed at the Mumbai Open.(AFP)

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, who upstaged US Open winner Sloane Stephens in the Fed Cup final loss to USA on Sunday, will lead the field in the Mumbai Open WTA challenger event to be held here next week.

The 19-year-old world No 78 had reached the Tianjin Open final three weeks ago before losing to Russian former world No 1, Maria Sharapova. She will be the top seed in the $125,000 event to be played at the Cricket Club of India (CCI) courts from November 18-26.

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The L&T Mumbai Open marks the revival of the Royal India Open, the last WTA event to be held in the country at Pune in 2012. The Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA) finally put together another event thanks to support from the state government.

Mumbai thus becomes the fifth Indian city to host a WTA event, joining Hyderabad (2004-2005), Kolkata (2005-2007), Bangalore (2006-2008) and Pune (2012).

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“It’s a good chance for our upcoming players to take on top 100 players, gain experience and earn ranking points,” said Amruta Fadnavis, chairperson of the organising committee, at a press conference announcing the event on Monday.

The qualifying rounds will be played from November 18 while the 32-player main draw starts on November 20.

Challenging Sabalenka for the winner’s cheque of $20,000 will be China’s Zhu Lin, ranked 105 in the world, Yanina Wickmayer (112) of Belgium, Arina Rodionova (116) of Australia, Naomi Broady (120) of Great Britain and Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia, all of whom will be seeded.

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In all, players from 19 countries will be feature in the tournament. Russia’s Vera Zvonareva, a former world No 2, Beijing Olympics bronze medallist and the 2010 Wimbledon and US Open runner-up, will also be playing.

The organisers are likely to give wildcards to upcoming Indian players Ankita Raina, Rutuja Bhosale, Kamran Kaur Thandi and world junior No 18 Zeel Desai.

First Published: Nov 13, 2017 19:52 IST