Fifteen-year-old Manas Dhamne will make his ATP debut in Pune on Monday after he was handed a wildcard for the main draw of the Maharashtra Open, an ATP 250 event. Having turned 15 just last week, the boy from Pune has the opportunity to become the youngest match-winner in ATP history, with the previous record being set by Argentina’s Franca Davin back in 1985, who was 15 years and one month old at the time.
The promising teenager is ranked 80th in the world, according to the ITF Juniors rankings, and became the youngest Indian to win a junior title at the ITF Asian B1 championships back in September.
Dhamne is currently training under renowned Italian coach Riccardo Piatti, who has worked with the likes of Novak Djokovic, Maria Sharapova and Jannik Sinner. The Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA), happy with their home player, have given him the distinction of opening play on Centre Court on Monday, where he takes on American Michael Mmoh. Dhamne will have the opportunity to not only make history but also set up an all-India clash in the second round where he could meet Sumit Nagal.
Nagal, the last Indian to play in the singles main draw of a Major, was also handed a wildcard into the main draw. He takes on the tough assignment of sixth seed Filip Krajinovic in his opener. Indian No. 1 Mukund Sasikumar was also handed a wildcard, and he will take on qualifier Flavio Coboli in the first round.
Ramkumar Ramanathan, whose run to the final in Newport in 2018 is the most notable result in Indian singles tennis recently, was the only surviving member of the Indian contingent that took part in qualifying. Yuki Bhambri lost in the second-round qualifier against last year’s semifinalist Elias Ymer, while Sidharth Rawat, Aditya Vishal Balsekar, and Prajnesh Gunneswaran all fell at the first hurdle.
Ramkumar vs Bopanna in doubles opening round
Ramanathan takes on Pedro Martinez in the first round, and will have his hands full the rest of the week. After winning the doubles title in Pune last year alongside Rohan Bopanna, the duo, now partnering others, take each other on in the first round. Bopanna is playing with Botic van de Zandschulp, while Ramanathan is partnering Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela.
Bhambri will continue his promising partnership with countryman Saketh Myneni, as they take on the third-seeded pairing of Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul. Purav Raja and Divij Sharan will also be in the doubles main draw, and so will Arjun Kadhe, along with usual partner Fernando Romboli.
The biggest international draw at the Balewadi Tennis Complex will be World No. 17 and 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic, who will open his season in India before travelling for the Australian Open. As the top seed, he has a bye in the first round, and will take on one of Roberto Carballes Baena, or Barnabe Zapata Miralles, in the second.
Notable first-round fixtures:
Manas Dhamne vs Michael Mmoh
Sumit Nagal vs (6) Filip Krajinovic
Ramkumar Ramanathan vs Pedro Martinez
Marco Cecchinato vs Nikoloz Basilashvili
Pablo Andujar vs (8) Aslan Karatsev