IMG-Reliance, the right holders of the tournament along with Government of Maharashtra and Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA), announced this on Wednesday, revealing Pune to be the new city to host the 2018 edition. It will henceforth be called the ‘Maharashtra Open’.
“We welcome the world class ATP tournament to our state,” Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said. “We are happy to host the Maharashtra Open and sure that we will take it to newer heights by bringing in an elite field every year.”
The Chennai Open became an important fixture on India’s international sporting calendar, drawing top players from across the world for 21 long years. Many of them, including Rafael Nadal who has often spoken about its importance in his journey to World No. 1, had made it their first stop every year.
“We would like to thank everyone in Tamil Nadu, especially our innumerable fans, the Tamil Nadu government and the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association for making the Chennai Open such a grand success,” IMG-Reliance’s spokesperson said.
“We look forward to similar love from tennis fans in not just in Pune and Maharashtra but in every part of the country,” the spokesperson added. “We have created a tennis legacy and have also provided our young players the opportunity to not only play against the best but to also pick up crucial points in world ranking system,” he stated.
MSLTA’s Hon Sec Sunder Iyer and Tournament director Prashant Sutar were equally ecstatic at the prospect of hosting the ATP tournament. “We have the best tennis infrastructure in the country. We will strive our best to make the world’s best players and our own, feel at home,” they said.
India’s Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi forged their formidable partnership at the Chennai Open, before they went on to conquer the world. Stan Wawrinka and Maric Cilic, among the more notable players, also took baby steps in this quaint city before going on to break into ATP’s elite Top 5 list.