|Hello and welcome to the highlights of the Maharashtra Open in Pune. Our correspondent Anjana Senthil was bringing us the updates.|
RESULTS, THUS FAR:
Leander Paes/Matthew Ebden vs Divij Sharan/Artem Sitak is live! Paes and his Australian partner took the first set 6-2 with ease.
And that will be it! Divij Sharan, who won the doubles title with Rohan Bopanna last year, crashes out with partner Artem Sitak of New Zealand to Leander Paes and Australian partner Matthew Ebden. The scoreline reads: 2-6, 6(5)-7(7).
Anjana sends us a picture of fans waiting to meet Leander Paes after his win. – Anjana Senthil
Prajnesh Gunneswaran vs Yannick Maden is live, ladies and gentlemen! Anjana pings again: “Prajnesh broke Maden to love and then gave the break back in the next to go back on serve at 5-4. After three great service games, Prajnesh falters with his serve by committing a double fault.”
He could have closed the set, but now the scores are tied at 5-all.
Anjana says: “Prajnesh wins the first set on tiebreaker. Was down 3-0, then came back to 5-3, with five successive points. Finishes 7-4.”
Prajnesh wins 7(7)-6(4), 7(7)-6(5), to make it to the next round.
India’s Arjun Kadhe lost to Jiri Vesely of Czech Republic in straight sets. The final score of the match read 2-6, 4-6.
Our reporter Anjana Senthil updates: “Arjun was broken in the very first game of each set. He played decently, but never threatened his higher-ranked opponent. The Indian didn’t have a single break point opportunity throughout the clash. So this was a pretty straightforward defeat as expected.”
WATCH THE HIGHLIGHTS BELOW:
Serbia’s Nikola Milojevic gets the better of France’s Antoine Hoang 7(7)-6(5), 6-4.
Ilya Ivashka downs Russia’s Evgeny Donskoy 6-3, 6-2 in what seemed to be a one-sided affair.
Egor Gerasimov thumps Paolo Lorenzi in straight sets. The scoreline reads: 6-2, 6-3.
Roberto Marcora defeats Lukas Rosol 6-3, 6-2.
Sixth-seeded Australian James Duckworth beats Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk 7(7)-6(5), 6-4.
|IMPORTANT UPDATE: Due to a hip injury, Peter Gojowczyk has withdrawn from doubles. The team of Gojowczyk/Cedrik-Marcel Stebe has now been replaced by the alternate team of Egor Gerasimov/Sumit Nagal. The duo will be facing the Indian pairing of Ramkumar Ramanathan and Purav Raja tomorrow.|
Divij looking forward to Paes clash, will continue partnership with Sitak
The draw hasn’t been kind to Leander Paes, who is playing his last ATP Tour tournament in India at the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune this year. He and partner Matthew Ebden will face defending champion Divij Sharan who is playing alongside his regular tour partner Artem Sitak in a Centre Court clash at the Mhalunge Balewadi Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Divij won the title partnering Rohan Bopanna last year and the duo was responsible for Paes’ ouster in the quarterfinals last year.
Talking about the clash, Divij said: “I have played against him quite a few times now in this very tournament. In Chennai (2017), I played him in the first round, I think I played against him last year, and then I’m playing him again this year. I’m looking forward to playing against him.”
“Whatever he’s achieved in tennis, it’s pretty amazing. Yes, it’s going to be tough for whoever to try to emulate what he’s done,” the 33-year-old doubles specialist said.
Divij has had a memorable run in the tournament throughout his career. “It’s been great. I reached the final in the last edition in Chennai, reached the semifinals with Yuki the next and won the title last year,” he said.
“It’s a new year and I will try to do my best. I am looking forward to playing here in front of the home crowd. I love playing here in Pune. I have done well in one of the Challengers in the past.”
To continue Sitak partnership
Divij Sharan, who renewed partnership with New Zealand’s Sitak in November after parting with Rohan Bopanna, said he will continue the pairing for the immediate future.
“It’s happened so many times in the past where, you know, you say that you’re fixed for a longer period, but you know things don’t work out. So I guess we would want to play together and hopefully, things work out for us. We need to make the cutoff in tournaments and we are just making the cuts for the ATP 250 tournaments for now.
“We’ve decided that we should give ourselves that chance. We have started the year together and we’re going to play the next three to four week together. The goal is to move up so we can try to play bigger events. I think we don’t want to put a tag there that we’re going to play for the rest of you know, whatever together but hopefully things keep working for us,” he said.
But being just a few months away from the Tokyo Olympics, Divij, however, hinted at renewing the tie with Rohan Bopanna before the quadrennial event. The two won the Asian Games gold in 2018 and combined for the Maharashtra Open title last year.
“Firstly, we need to work on our individual rankings, so that’s the biggest goal for the Olympics and maybe (get together) closer to the event. Rohan and I have been in touch, we’ve been training together and we will see what tournaments we can play together, I’m sure Artem would also like to play the Olympics. If he gets closer to the cut, then he would also want to play with his compatriot with whom he will compete at the Olympics, so we’ll keep in touch and see what all tournaments we can plan to play in preparation for the Olympics,” Divij, the doubles World No. 53 said. Rohan Bopanna is ranked No. 41.
“You would like to play with the same partner but different things come into perspective: what rankings you have and what tournaments you’re getting into. I think that’s the reason why Rohan and I had to stop playing with each other last year. There were these big tournaments coming up and our rankings had dropped a little bit and we weren’t getting into them.
“So in that situation he would fix with somebody I would fix with someone and it’s not easy to keep changing. So we had to play with different partners which was fine,” he said.
“I think it’s a professional sport, not all are playing with partners from the same countries. Once we get closer to the Olympics, maybe then we will. We want to do well, and we’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that we’re ready for it,” he said.
INDIANS TO WATCH OUT FOR TODAY:
Leander Paes, Arjun Kadhe, Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Divij Sharan
ORDER OF PLAY (Matches start at 3:30 PM IST)
Peter GOJOWCZYK (GER) vs James DUCKWORTH (AUS) 
[WC] Arjun KADHE (IND) vs Jiri VESELY (CZE)
Prajnesh GUNNESWARAN (IND) vs Yannick MADEN (GER)
[WC] Matthew EBDEN (AUS) / Leander PAES (IND) vs Divij SHARAN (IND) / Artem SITAK (NZL) 
Paolo LORENZI (ITA) vs Egor GERASIMOV (BLR) 
Ilya IVASHKA (BLR) vs Evgeny DONSKOY (RUS)
[Q] Lukas ROSOL (CZE) vs [Q] Roberto MARCORA (ITA)
[Q] Nikola MILOJEVIC (SRB) vs Antoine HOANG (FRA)
It should have been a special year. It should have been the celebration of the best in tennis. The 2020 Tata Open Maharashtra, after all, marks the 25th year of the ATP tour event happening in India. The 25 glorious years have seen the likes of Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Marin Cilic and Carlos Moya making India as the pit-stop for their Australian Open preparations. Conducive weather and conditions, perfect timing, the tournament had the zing.
For 25 years, it was the preferred stop. For some, it was even lucky to begin the season here.
But the launch of ATP Cup has changed all that this year. Slotted in the week after the Australian Open, it has become doubly hard for the organisers to draw the big names.
To compensate for the lack of star power – there is only one player from the top 50 (Benoit Paire), the singles event will see five Indians in the main draw: two direct entries and three wild cards in the main draw — giving the players the best opportunity to earn some crucial ATP points in the Olympic year.
Also, by offering Leander Paes the doubles wild card, it has added the charm of playing host to Leander’s last ATP tournament on Indian soil, in all likeliness