India’s 27-year association with the ATP 250 level tennis tournament has officially ended, as the men’s tennis tour event is set to relocate out of the country.
The organisers of the Tata Open Maharashtra – the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association – had signed a five year contract with the tournament owners IMG and RISE. Upon the fulfillment of the contract, which ended in January after Tallon Griekspoor
won the 2023 singles title, the event is now set to move out of India.
The Indian Open first started in New Delhi in 1996, before moving to Chennai – called the Chennai Open – for 21 years. It moved to Pune in 2018 and was held at the Balewadi Sports Complex. The ATP 250 event, which is the lowest rung in the elite tour level (followed by the ATP 500, 1000 Masters, Tour Final and then the Grand Slams) was the most prestigious tennis event being held in the country.
Over the years, the event has attracted star players such as former world No 1s Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Carlos Moya, Boris Becker and Patrick Rafter. It also gave former world No 1 doubles team Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi their first ever tour title, back at Chennai Open 1997.
“MSLTA had signed a 5 year agreement with IMG and RISE for organising the Maharashtra Open ATP Tour event,” read a statement issued by tournament director and MSLTA chairperson Prashant Sutar.
“The contract with IMG and RISE stands successfully completed, MSLTA has undertaken all its commitments towards successful (sic) conduct of the event for 5 years.”
There were tussles over where the tournament would be held when the event’s time in Chennai had ended, with Singapore and Kazakhstan being among the other candidates to host the event. Eventually, hosting rights were won by MSLTA, who have also been hosting the Pune Challenger at the same venue.
Having the ATP event at home provided Indian players an opportunity to compete in the main draw as the top ranked home-players were often awarded a wild card. Former India No 1 Somdev Devvarman had taken full advantage of the wild card he received in 2009, as he reached the singles final before losing to Marin Cilic.
The Croatian, a former US Open champion, was among a host of star players to have featured at the ATP event in India. The list includes, three-time Grand Slam and four-time Chennai Open winner Stan Wawrinka, former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, and former top 5 players Tim Henman, Milos Raonic, Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Enqvist.
For a journey that began in 1996 in New Delhi, 2023 marked the last edition of an event that had kept India on the elite men’s tennis calendar for 27 years.
On Monday, ATP announced that the tournament will be relocated to Hong Kong from 2024 onwards.