India is all set to host a WTA host event after five years with the Mumbai Open scheduled from November 18-26 at the Cricket Club of India’s courts. The tournament will be headlined by World No 78 Aryna Sabalenka, the top seed, and former world No 2 Vera Zvonareva among the 32 players from 19 countries.
Sabalenka, 19-year-old from Belarus, is a fast-rising young player on the women’s tour. She was the runner-up to Maria Sharapova at the Tianjin Open last month and beat US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the Fed Cup final on Sunday. She has also reached the finals of two and won one ITF tournament in India back in 2015.
Russia’s Zvonareva is best known for reaching the finals of both Wimbledon and US Open in 2010. She has also won four Majors in women’s and mixed doubles and an Olympics bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games. She is making her comeback to tennis his season after giving birth and having won an ITF title in Egypt in July, the Russian will be a player to watch out for in Mumbai.
The other seeded players in the fray are former world No 12 Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium who is currently ranked 112th, Zhu Lin (105) of China, Arina Rodionova (117) of Russia, Naomi Brady (120) of Britain, Anna Schmiedlova (132) of Slovakia, Jasmine Paolini (136) of Italy and Lizette Faith Cabrera (137) of Australia.
Four wildcards are expected to go to Indian players with India No 1 Ankita Raina, Maharashtra’s top-ranked player Rutuja Bhosale, junior No 1 and national runner-up Zeel Desai and upcoming player Karman Kaur Thandi being among the frontrunners. Two more Indians will be given wildcards for the qualifying draw and local players are expected to team up in doubles as well.
The logo and website of the Women’s Tennis Association $125K L&T Mumbai Open was launched in Mumbai on Monday by Amruta Fadnavis, Chairperson of the Organising Committee.
“The logo represents Mumbai, with Bollywood and the Gateway of India shown in it,” said Sundar Iyer, Secretary of the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association which is organising the event in association with the Maharashtra government.
The tournament will be streamed live on WTA TV and telecast on DD Sports, with the qualifying from November 18. The singles winner will get $20,000 and 160 ranking points while the runner-up will receive $11,000 and 95 points. In the doubles, the winner will get $5,500 and 160 points and runners-up will receive $2,700 and 95 points.
The last time India hosted a WTA event – the Royal Indian Open in Pune in 2012 – it was then the biggest title of champion Elina Svitolina’s career, who is a top-10 player today.