Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The third edition of India’s one of the oldest running tournaments Tata Open Maharashtra is set bring yet another exciting year of high-voltage action. The tournament, which is organised by Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA) in association with the Government of Maharashtra, will see the world’s top tennis stars battle to win the prestigious title at Mhalunge Balewadi Stadium here from February 3 to 9.
Here are the top five interesting facts about of the South Asia’s only ATP Tour Tournament.
The 2019 singles championship match between 6-feet 8-inch Kevin Anderson and 6-feet 11-inch Ivo Karlovic remains as the tallest tour-level final in the Open Era. South African Anderson and Croatian ace Karlovic met in a sizzling summit clash which not only saw a mesmerising tie being played out at the Mhalunge Balewadi Tennis Complex in Pune but it also went on to make the record books. With a combined height of 4.14m, this was the tallest final ever played on the ATP Tour in the Open Era.
As booming aces flew from both sides of the net, it was Anderson’s sheer determination and nerves of steel that helped him achieve the gritty 7-6(4), 6-7(2), 7-6(5) win and take home his first trophy from India.
The tournament has seen India’s dominance in the doubles as seven times all-Indian doubles team clinched the title. The iconic pair of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes has won it five times. However, Rohan Bopanna won it twice — alongside Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan in 2017 and Divij Sharan in 2019.
No player or team in the history of the tournament collected a humongous number of five titles apart from India’s legendary doubles pair of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi. They were destined for an unforgettable partnership was something that was evident when the two teamed up to win the title for the very first time in Chennai in 1997. They claimed two more titles in the next two editions to become the only doubles team to have a hat-trick of titles. The duo claimed the title one more time in 2002, before adding their fifth and final one nine years later in 2011.
Anderson’s title triumph in the 2019 marked the 10th time a Top-10 player won the title at this prestigious tournament. Before Anderson, who was at No. 6 when he clinched the title, Thomas Enqvist (No. 9) in 1996, (No. 4) Patrick Rafter in 1998, (No. 7) Carlos Moya in 2004, (No. 9) Ivan Ljubicic in 2006, (No. 9) Janko Tipsarevic in 2013 and Stan Wawrinka (No. 4) in 2014, 2015, 2016 have emerged champions.
The Belgium star Steve Darcis has a dream debut in the tournament as, despite being unranked player, he impressed everyone with his semi-final finish. His spectacular run in the tournament came to an end in the last-4 clash when he went down fighting against Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-3. With appearance in the semi-final, he became the first unranked semi-finalist in ATP Tour history (since 1990).
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