Maharashtra Open doubtful for 2021 ATP season

The status of the ATP 250 event, held every year since 1996, is uncertain for next year due to scheduling conflicts.

By Rahul Venkat

The ATP 250 Maharashtra Open in Pune may not be held next year due to unavailability of dates on the ATP calendar for the 2021 season.

“It seems difficult as of now. We are still in discussions with the ATP for a date in the second half of the season but if we do not get it, the tournament will most likely be cancelled,” Sundar Iyer, the secretary of the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA), told the Olympic Channel.

The MSLTA organises the Maharashtra Open at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune.

The Maharashtra Open tennis event has been held in India every year since 1996. The first edition was held in New Delhi before it shifted to Chennai the year after. It has been held in Pune since 2018.

The ATP 250 event has seen stars like 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, Stanislas Wawrinka, and Marin Cilic and is traditionally held in February every year.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the season-opening Grand Slam, the Australian Open, from January to February next year, which caused a clash in dates with the Maharashtra Open.

Moreover, the ATP requested a bio-bubble environment for the participants instead of a quarantine period on arrival.

The ATP guidelines conflicts with Maharashtra's rules that necessitates a mandatory 14-day quarantine for travellers coming in from foreign countries.

As a result, the organisers of the Maharashtra Open had requested the ATP for a date in the second half of the 2021 season (in October) after the monsoon season in India. 

“We are trying to reach a resolution because we would like to host it. But it is not just up to us - we need permissions, there are government norms and international travel guidelines to negotiate,” Iyer added.

If the Tata Open Maharashtra is indeed scrapped from the 2021 calendar, it will be the first time that the ATP 250 event will not be held in India since the inaugural edition in 1996.

No Indian tennis player has won the singles title at the Tata Open Maharashtra. Somdev Devvarman came the closest in 2009, losing to Marin Cilic in the final.

Swiss star Stanislas Wawrinka holds the record for most singles titles at the Tata Open Maharashtra, having won four titles in its guise as the Chennai Open, including three consecutive victories in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

In the doubles, the legendary duo of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi hold the record, having won five titles together, including a hat-trick in 1997, 1998, and 1999.

Paes also won a sixth title in 2012, partnering Serbian Janko Tipsarevic.