Top stars skip nationals
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Last edition's finalists Yuki Bhambri and Vishnu Vardhan among others to miss event.
The tennis nationals starting at the RK Khanna Stadium from 6th October will be without the country's top players. Both the men's finalists from last year — Yuki Bhambri and Vishnu Vardhan — will be giving the tournament a miss. Defending champion Bhambri and Vardhan have committed to the Tashkent Challenger, which, with a purse of $125,000 plus paid-for hospitality is one of the five highest prize money tournaments on this rung of the Tour.
"After the Shanghai 500 I will be playing a tournament in Tashkent which is as good as it gets on the Challenger Tour so I have not given the nationals a thought this time," Bhambri said . After Bhambri and Vardhan, India's next highest ranked at 325, Sriram Balaji is also skipping the nationals choosing instead to train at his regular base at the Schuttler-Waske Tennis Academy in Germany for the next two weeks.
Among other top-10 players from India, Saketh Myneni, who had lost to Bhambri in the nationals semifinal last year, and Chandigarh's Sanam Singh, who played the ATP 250 Malaysian Open last week will also not be in action this time making it quite a lackluster field in the men's category. Myneni is currently participating in the $15,000 Futures in Australia and is scheduled to play another one in the same country next week.
Jeevan Neduncheziyan, who is ranked 421 in the world is the only top Indian player to have committed to the event. Neduncheziyan who slipped in the rankings recently after suffering an injury at a Futures in Iran, is looking to get some match practice before taking part in tougher competition abroad.
Rutuja opts to rest
It is a similar situation in the women's category as last year's champion Rutuja Bhosale, will also not compete. Bhosale sprained an ankle ligament a couple of weeks back in Egypt and decided to take some time off after the Gulburga ITF in Karnataka last week. The winner's cheque in the men's and ladies' category at the nationals is Rs.1.50 lacs and Rs 1 lac respectively, which is the highest prize money in the domestic circuit but that has not proved enough to draw the big names.