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Royal Indian Open: A fan's perspective

In retrospect, being part of the Royal Indian Open at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex (Balewadi Tennis Complex) and watching the semifinal matches wasn’t exactly an overwhelming experience.

Our college was the proud educational sponsor of this tournament and much to the delight of a few of us, we got an opportunity to be a part of the WTA event which is being held for the second time in India, after the Bangalore Open in 2009.

The tournament organizers claimed that the tournament was held in Pune due to the fact that tennis is fast becoming popular in India, with WTA events being the second most followed events after the Grand Slams.

Andrea Petkovic during the match with the logo of Sri Balaji Society backdrop!

Do they really think so? I guess they have to set the record straight. The few colleagues with whom I interacted before going to the venue didn’t know how lawn tennis is played, let alone the rules and regulations. Does this suggest that tennis is fast becoming popular in India? Much to the annoyance of umpires and players during the game there was constant chattering among the little crowd that was present, which was ‘driving the players up the wall’, causing a break in their concentration in between points. Doesn’t the crowd know how to respect the players?

To go along with that, I was also disappointed with the maintenance and cleanliness of the stadium and court, which was a synthetic hard court. I personally like the lush green lawn tennis courts of All England Club in Wimbledon. My research helped me to conclude that there is an only one grasscourt in India at Calcutta Club; synthetic grasscourts are the ones which are preferred in India. Last but not the least, for a semifinal match there were approximately 500 spectators out of the 4200 sitting capacity at the Center Court. I once again reiterate, the organizers should check if tennis in India is indeed becoming a popular sport.

Anyhow, being a sports follower who has been following Grand Slam matches on television, being cheesed off due to the unavoidable factors didn’t kill all my expectations of a good quality game with long rallies and powerful winners.

The second semi-final match was between the Andrea Petkovic, ranked 140th (ranked 9th a few years ago) from Germany and Elina Svitolina (ranked 148th) from Ukraine. A few good aces, 10 in all from the Ukrainian player, wristy backhands from both the players and powerful first serves by Andrea Petkovic were some of the highlights of the match. Svitolina defeated the wild card entry and the crowd favorite Petkovic in straight sets 6-2, 7-5, shattering her dream of a comeback.

The first semi-final was between Tamarine Tanasugarn (ranked 151st) from Thailand and Kimiko Date-Krumm (ranked 128th) from Thailand. It was a good contest with the match going into the third set, and Krumm eventually prevailed 6-4, 5-7 and 6-4. Tanasugarn’s main pitfall was her low percentage of first serves and frequent double faults. And ironically, the losing point also came from a double fault. At the end of the match during the interview, I was pretty surprised to know that K. Date Krumm was 42 years old; from her enthusiasm and athleticism she seemed to be a player in her mid 20’s.

Perhaps this event will set the ball rolling. Now the ball is in our court, can we deliver an ACE?

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