Last edition runners up Ramkumar Ramanathan and Asian Games bronze medallist Prajnesh Gunneswaran would lead the Indian challenge at next week’s ATP Challenger in Pune after defending champion Yuki Bhambri pulled out due to injury.

Moldova’s Radu Albot, Sweden’s Elias Ymer, Britain’s Jay Clarke and Korea’s Dukhee Lee will be among the other big names vying for the title in the $50000 KPIT-MSLTA Challenger, organised by the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association and PMDTA at the Mhalunge-Balewadi Tennis Complex from November 17-24.

Apart from the two direct main draw entries, more Indians could make it to the main draw through qualifying, which will be held on November 17 and 18. Four Indians will also be given wildcards, two of them from the state, which will be announced on Friday.

There could be two special exempt players as well, depending on where the Indians finish at the ongoing Bengaluru Open, where four Indians have made it to the last eight.

Among the doubles players, all Indian players will be in action with the exception of Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan who are in the world top 50.

Chairman of organising committee Kishor Patil and MSLTA secretary Sunder Iyer addressing the media

MSLTA secretary Sunder Iyer was happy with the response received for the tournament saying the cut off for direct entries was at 280, which is considered very high for a $50K Challenger. A Challenger offers 80 ATP points to the champion.

“Having a Challenger is critical for players to succeed given the change in rankings. Having more Challengers will help Indian players,” explained Kishor Patil, president of PMDTA and chairman of the tournament organising committee.