Chennai: Due to it’s failure to meet the “commercial demands” of the main organisers, IMG, the Chennai Open, India’s only ATP World tour event is set to shift to Pune after a period of 21 years. The competition will now be called “Maharashtra Open.”
Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA) Secretary General CBN Reddy said they will make an official announcement on the development tomorrow but another official, who did not wish to be named, confirmed that the event is moving out of city. “We can’t meet the commercial demands of the IMG,” said the official on the condition of anonymity adding without elaborating.
The reason is surprising since the Tamil Nadu government has been supporting the event for long and IMG had even extended the contract with TNTA for three more years recently. “But it’s not a setback. We are premier state association and will remain,” the TNTA official asserted.
It has been learnt that IMG, the owners of the tournament, were considering to take the event out of the country but is likely to settle for Pune as the next hosts.
“We welcome the world class ATP tournament to our state,” said Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, “We are happy to host the Maharashtra Open and sure that we will take it to newer heights by bringing in an elite field every year,” he added.
The state associations of Karnataka and Gujarat were also in the race but Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA) has emerged favourites to win the bid as the state government has passed a resolution to support the event.
Chennai has been hosting the event since 1996 and legends such as Rafael Nadal have been part of the tournament, which is organised in the lead up to the Australian Open.
“IMG were considering Singapore as one of the possible venues but we wanted to keep it in India, keeping the interest of the Indian players in mind. It is India’s event and it should remain in the country,” the source said.
AITA Secretary General Hironmoy Chatterjee said, “The tournament is IMG’s property and they have every right to host it where they find it more lucrative.”
The Sports Ministry recently snubbed AITA but refusing to sponsor ITF and ATP tournaments, saying it was Federation’s responsibility to raise funds and organise tournaments.