Defending champion Sumit Nagal earned a wildcard for the 2018 Bengaluru Open, which will be held during November 12-17 at the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association in Bengaluru.

Sumit, 21, received the second wildcard of the tournament. Suraj Prabodh got the first, after winning the Bengaluru Open Wild Card AITA ranking tennis event last month. Two more wildcards, the organisers said, will be announced shortly.

The tournament, one of three ATP Challenger events hosted by India, is bigger this time with the prize money increased from $100,000 to $150,000.

“I am really happy to be back in Bengaluru and playing one of my favourite Challenger on the Tour,” Sumit was quoted as saying. “I still remember playing my first ATP Challenger final at KSLTA. The atmosphere was amazing and the love I received from the crowd was phenomenal. It really pumped me up.”

Sumit received a wildcard last year as well but entered the main draw ahead of the tournament due to a last-minute withdrawal.

Sumit’s route to victory in the last edition included defeating the top seed Blaz Kavcic, third seed and tournament favourite Yuki Bhambri before prevailing over Jay Clarke of Britain in the final.

India’s top two singles players, Yuki and Ramkumar Ramanathan, however, will not participate in the event.

“Bengaluru Open along with the All India Tennis Association (AITA) is proud to have Sumit Nagal back in the 2018 edition. Being an underdog last year, he went on to win the Bengaluru Open as a 20-year-old and made India proud,” said tournament director Sunil Yajaman. “This year, being a bigger event, he needed a wildcard to make it to the main draw,” he added.

Sumit suffered a first-round loss in his previous three tournaments, including one at the hands of fellow Indian Ramkumar Ramanathan in the Shenzhen International Challenger last week. He will be trying to improve his ranking to get into the qualifiers of the Australian Open next year.

“The win really helped me in my ranking as I was at my career high after the finals and got into qualification of my first slam at the Australian Open. I am really looking forward to be there next week as its one the best organised tournament on the Tour,” he said.